Monday, July 11, 2011

The Pink Chair: Pre-Reading the Scripts

Pre-reading the script. In a perfect world, everyone in the audiobook publishing house should, from the acquisitions agent to the casting director, from the narrator to the graphics department, from the shipping clerks to the marketing people, should read every book about to be produced. But that's physically impossible and realistically, not all jobs require intimate knowledge of every title. So then, who is pre-reading and who must?

The Casting Director: Read it, speed-read it, skim it, Vulcan Mind Meld it. The casting director has got to have some sense of the book before casting. The gender, ethnicity, age, and/or nationality of the protagonist or subject matter is key to casting (not the gender, ethnicity, age and/or nationality of the author.) Also, the style of the writing as well as the structure (e.g. single or multiple points of view) can play a role in casting decisions..

The Narrator: Read it. Seriously, your mad cold-reading skillz are not as good as you think they are. The pre-read will allow you to shape the text, helping to guide the listener through the material. If you are exploring the text at the same time as your listener, its leads to a "lost" feeling of the material. Also, this allows you to check out vocabulary and expressions before you head into the studio. And too, this is when you find out if one of your characters speaks in a Catalin dialect with a slight English accent in the Elizabethan period :-/
Nothing is more irritating and/or expensive than having to stop a studio session to do look-ups or, having to put the post-productions teams (proofers and engineers) through labor intensive hell, for a narrator who didn't do their homework.

The Director: Read it. Parse it. Live and breathe it. The director will be shepherding the narrator through challenging passages or even entire books. The director becomes the authority of the book in the studio, bringing all sorts of awesomeness in terms of interpretational knowledge and skill, to the plate. Sometimes a director will only Skype in for a session; but nonetheless he or she will know immediately whether the narrator is on track. The director always has notes.

The Studio Engineer: Read it. Because The Director in Studio is a disappearing breed; the studio engineer now has a bit more to do than just push some buttons. This is not to say that the Studio Engineer is the de facto director; but the studio engineer is being held more accountable for the the product coming out of the booth. What no engineer wants to hear, "You let him get away with that?!"

Next up on The Pink Chair:


  1. Yes, yes YES! Absolutely critical to pre-read! For those of us who read at home, it's even more critical to study the text. I prepare much like I would when I'm cast in a play. Read through, makes notes about plot. Read through again, make notes about characters. Then again, this time making notes about setting, geography, cultural references, etc.

    Great stuff here!! Thanks!

  2. I get asked this all the time - thank you for this clear (and oh so true) answer :)