Audio Recordings

I used to dread reading my work out loud. Then, my writing group gained a new member who encouraged us to read our pieces to the group. The exercise changed many things for me. I already loved going to poetry slams and hearing the emotion behind a piece when it was spoken in a crowded room, but when I attended these events, I never thought I would do anything like that. I didn’t even write poems at that time.

Hearing the cadence, rhythm, and emotion of a story spoken out loud provides a different experience than reading a piece alone. It can give a story or poem a whole new meaning. It creates a connection between the writer and the reader/listener.

It took me a while between when I first had the idea to include audio with my pieces and when I posted the first one, but as soon as I made the leap, I went back and provided recordings to all of the pieces I’d posted to my site. It was another layer, another way to experience my work. Plus, there have been times when I’ve wanted to read someone’s story or poem online while I was busy doing something else, and I wished they had an audio version so that I could multitask.

Most recently, I’ve found another use for these audio recordings. I created an elevator pitch for a writing conference I’m attending this summer and while I knew how it felt to deliver my pitch, I didn’t know how it was coming across. So I started recording it while I practiced so that I could hear it.

Luckily, the audio recordings on this site have been well received. And there has been some interest by other writers who would like to include audio on their sites. Since I’ve had a tutorial about this on my blog idea list for a while, I figured this was as good of time as any to write this post.

I use Audacity, an audio editor and recorder, because it is free and widely used. I tried another free program that had the same basic functions, but preferred Audacity over the other one. It’s user friendly, and because of its popularity it’s easy to look up and find instructions and videos on how to use different features of the software.

Here’s how to record a track.

  • Open software.
  • Plug in microphone (I use ear buds with a built-in mic).
  • Select the record icon. An audio track will automatically open and start recording.
  • Hit stop when you’re finished.
  • Review the track by pressing the play icon.

 

Here are a few editing tools that I like to use.

I have found that sometimes the pauses are too long in the audio I’ve recorded, or I’ll mess up a section and need to edit it out. This can be done by left clicking on the beginning of the section you want to remove and dragging to the end of the section while holding down the left mouse button. Let go, and a portion of the audio track should be highlighted. The cut icon is a pair of scissors to the right of the recording tools.

The copy button is to the right of the scissors, and paste is to the right of that.

I don’t want to make this post overly complicated, or too in depth, but there is one last part that I’ve recently used in practicing my elevator pitch that I want to share. Since a pitch usually begins with someone asking about your book, I start a recording with the question “What is your book about?” I stop the recording and hit record again, which opens a second track. The audio from the first track plays, and then I provide my pitch, which then records on the second track. This gives the feel of a conversation, and helps give my practice a little more context. I imagine this would also be useful for performing the dialogue between two characters in a novel to see if it sounds conversational.

Here’s a look at the two tracks.

After you have your track(s) recorded, you’ll want to save it. Here are the steps you’ll want to follow:

  • Go to File
  • Select “Export Audio.” (Note: You do NOT select Save Project As or Save Project).
  • Name the file, and choose “MP3 Files” from the “Save as type.”
  • Hit Save
  • Fill out the Metadata fields that you wish from the following screen, they can be left blank.
  • Select OK.

The file can also be saved as a WAV file, but the MP3 option is smaller and easier to upload to a website.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions or something was a bit unclear. I hope this helps whether you’re making a recording for a website or personal use. I’m sure that it has many applications outside of the writing world, and of course there are many other programs to choose from, but hopefully this will get people started who want to try this out.

Here’s a link to the Audacity website to download the software if you’re interested http://www.audacityteam.org/.

13 Comments


  1. // Reply

    Thanks Mandie, this is very helpful! I got Audacity last year to interview my Dad for about six hours – realised there was so much about him I didn’t know. But I love the idea of reading out stuff for the site. I will definitely give it a go and hope it doesn’t drive people away!


    1. // Reply

      Haha I don’t think you’ll drive people away, Ben. Besides, the audio is optional. People can choose to listen to it, or they can read the story without it. Kind of like your choose your own adventure idea.
      In one of the recordings for a poem, I added a word. It was intentional, something that I felt in the moment that emphasized the emotion I was writing about. I can see doing that in the future too. Sometimes it’s just a straight recording of the words, and other times there might be something extra in the audio version.
      That sounds like such an amazing project you undertook with recording your dad. Not only the preservation of the stories, but of the sound of his voice. I have this memory of my grandpa where he used to say “Not at all,” but at all was smushed together like it was one word. It’d be nice to have a recording of his voice. You don’t know you’ll miss those things until they’re gone.


      1. // Reply

        Yeah, it was so good. I will transcribe it one of these days. It was a lovely day. I learned so much about him as a boy. You forget your parents are normal people, with fears, ambitions, insecurities etc. Until you have kids youself of course, and you realise everyone is making it up as they go along.


  2. // Reply

    I’ve used Audacity for recording music and song lyrics, but never thought of recording poems or stories with it. I genuinely hate the sound of my voice (HATE!), but you’ve given me something to think about.


    1. // Reply

      I always think I sound so serious in my recordings, and my cadence is different from normal. Part of that is probably due to the subject matter I’m reading, and the other part is from being self-conscious about recording my work. I doubt when I start sharing more horror it’s going to get any better. That’s not exactly a cheery subject.
      I’m usually struck by how different my voice sounds on a recording than it does in my head, so I haven’t really determined whether I like it or not.
      Thanks for stopping by, Scarlett. It’s always a pleasure.


      1. // Reply

        I haven’t heard any of your recordings yet (my internet connection is so bad right now it takes forever just to load a webpage), but the way you hear your own voice is probably completely different to how the rest of us hear it. And congratulations on pushing past the self-consciousness and getting the recordings done!


  3. // Reply

    This is indeed helpful, Mandie, although I confess that I dislike audio books and as for audio recordings, I dislike the sound of my voice, so I prefer to stay away. ^^


    1. // Reply

      I used to not like audio books either. Primarily because people usually listen to them on car rides, and they make me fall asleep in the car. I found that I enjoy listening to them while I’m doing busy work like washing dishes, or doing laundry though. It makes those mundane tasks more enjoyable.
      Thanks for reading, EM. 🙂


      1. // Reply

        Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday! 🙂


  4. // Reply

    I have done a few recordings, and actually prefer to do them directly on my mobile using soundcloud… but I did get audicity and actually bought a good desktop microphone as well… but alas I rarely take the time to do it… but I would love to do more (even with my Swedish accent).


  5. // Reply

    Great information, Mandie. Some of the Friday Flash Fiction writers have included audio with their 100 word stories. I’ve been interested in pursing it, but didn’t really know where to start. Thanks for such detailed info.


    1. // Reply

      You are most welcome, Russell. I’ve noticed a few of the Friday Flash Fiction writers who also provide audio, which is a lot of fun. I’ve found I follow a number of writers who participate in these prompts, which is slightly odd given that I don’t participate myself.

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