Does the ear make the writer?

Audiobook-Logo-White-2-No-BIn Letters of Ted Hughes, the English poet and children’s writer, husband of Sylvia Plath, offered advice to his daughter Frieda in a letter about the importance of reading aloud – “Read every sentence as a separate music speech unit – advice which he subsequently explains he himself received from T.S. Eliot:

T.S. Eliot said to me ‘There’s only one way a poet can develop his actual writing – apart from self-criticism & continual practice. And that is by reading other poetry aloud – and it doesn’t matter whether he understands it or not (i.e. even if it’s in another language.) What matters above all, is educating the ear.'”

Then Hughes continues, “What matters, is to connect your own voice with an infinite range of verbal cadences & sequences – and only endless actual experience of your ear can store all that in your nervous system. The rest can be left to your life & your character.”

Although he was referring specifically to poetry, Hughes was also a “supremely original writer of imaginative and critical prose.” Is it reasonable then that the same is true of the writer of narrative prose? Does reading aloud also help develop a writer’s Storytelling? And if the experience of the narrative writer’s ear, as they read aloud, contributes to the development of their skill as a writer, then is this where the oral and literary traditions intersect? There in the nervous system of the writer? Is it that “infinite range of verbal cadences & sequences” that culminates in a narrative voice telling a story that the writer hears and then records for consumption by the eye? And does the reader then hear that same voice? Is the reader’s satisfaction directly related to the fluency and clarity of that narrative voice? Who might answer these questions? J.K. Rowling? George R. R. Martin? Hemingway? Shakespeare? The New York Times book critics?

So then, when a Story is read aloud, is the listener’s enjoyment and satisfaction directly related to the reader’s ability to find and channel that same narrative “voice?” Writers and audiobook narrators want to know. My money is on yes.


What It Takes: What Are Love Stories For?

Audiobook-Logo-White-2-No-B“The Obsession Love Story concerns physical Desire. This is the first level of love,thinking someone is cute and wanting to possess them.…” – Shawn Coyne, What Are Love Stories For?

In Part 3 of his 6 part guest post series on, Shawn Coyne breaks down the Love Story genre into its three sub-genres, Obsession, Courtship, and Marriage. He introduces the qualities that define each sub-genre and also presents a convincing discussion of the role Love Stories play in our lives. “Love stories give us prescriptive (positive) and cautionary (negative) tales to navigate love’s emotional minefield. They give us tools to try out and behaviors to avoid.”

Shawn covers all of this in greater detail, as well as the breakdown of the other literary genres, in his book, The Story Grid. Written primarily for editors and based on his twenty-five year career in publishing, The Story Grid is also a valuable resource for both aspiring and established writers. In it he approaches the global concept of Story through deconstruction of genre based on Content, Structure, Time, Reality, and Style. Love Story is, of course, one of those genres. I use The Story Grid‘s concepts to analyze Stories that I’m preparing to narrate and produce as audiobooks.

My current production is Vacation by JC Miller. A Courtship Love Story set partially in the Cotswolds, the walking capital of England, where the lovers meet. In this preview clip, we find all the main characters who appear in the walking tour part of the story. Two extremely attractive and cultured French women, a gay couple from North Carolina, an older couple from Australia, Annie from Vashon Island, Washington, William, our hero, and their bumbling tour guide, all deal with a “wee” change in itinerary.

Vacation is set for a summer 2017 release.

Why Love Rules By Shawn Coyne

What I Mean by Love Story By Shawn Coyne

What Are Love Stories For? By Shawn Coyne

Love Story Cheat Sheet / Controlling Idea By Shawn Coyne

Love Story Cheat Sheet / Obligatory Scenes By Shawn Coyne

Love Story Cheat Sheet / Conventions By Shawn Coyne


In Production | Vacation by JC Miller (clip #2)

vacation-cover2Sneak Preview Clip #2. Vacation is a delightful courtship Love Story, by JC Miller, set partially in the Cotswolds, the walking capital of England, where the lovers meet.

This clip is the beginning point of the story’s build, just following the inciting incident where William, our hero, the geeky and overworked head of the Pathology Department at Seattle’s Northwest Hospital, goes against his nature and agrees to take his first vacation in a decade.

In this scene he arrives at the airport the morning of his flight to England on his way to a walking tour of the Cotswolds, the walking capital of England. Verdant hills, country gardens, meandering streams, and honey-colored stone villages await him. Not to mention romance. Hope you enjoy it.

Vacation is set for a summer 2017 release.