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Do You Have An Ear For Dramatic
Reads? Here's How To Tune In ...
By Donna Reed
Voice Actor
Taking time to learn voice-over styles isn’t easy. Finding new ways to be unique in the voice-over booth is even harder.
But this is absolutely essential if you want to set yourself apart in the competitive voice-over marketplace.
For instance, maybe you're searching for new ways to perform dramatic reads for audiobooks and other forms of narration.
Where do you start?
Simply read a book. The more you read, the easier it is for you to understand how people write.
Every script we read was written by someone - the producer, the copywriter, the client.
Everyone has a perspective in writing - and each author has a unique point of view with characters and/or storytelling.
It’s really no different in the audio world. When it comes to the voice-over and recording business, the more reading you do, the more you understand writing from the copywriter's and producer’s perspective.
While it’s true that as a voice talent you have your own "voice perspective," when you’re in the booth, you’ll want to reach the script writer’s perspective as well.
You want to get beyond the one voice-over style you perform.
To start, read parts of your favorite book out loud, trying different voice levels, styles and inflections, making each sentence or paragraph sound different in as many ways as you can.
Be dramatic. Or not.
Either way, you’ll accomplish a couple of things:
  • One, reading a few lines in the book in various ways will give you a sense of what you can accomplish on a voice-over level. You’ll find voice styles you never even knew you had in you!
  • Two, you’ll start to give some real thought to what other people write or hear.
You’re learning a very effective form of communication known as "perspective" - that is, if you’re actually reading each line totally different.
Work on perspective, and the copywriter/producer/director of your next audition will thank you.
Not sure what to read?
Read a book that was made into a movie. Both the movie and the book may not be exactly alike; characters on the screen may not match characters in the book, but parts of the story are going to make a lot more sense to you, since you’ve read the story, seen the characters - perhaps saying the same things on screen as in the book.
Or try vice versa - see the movie - now read the book. If you can record phrases and play them back to yourself - even better.
Seeing the movie and reading the book - hardly ever the same experience, I know. But the voice of the characters is starting to sound familiar to you.
Don’t have the DVD yet? Run out and buy it. Really listen. Focus on the characters.
Maybe you’ll know the book/movie so well, you can mimic the character's "voice" - which could start a new career move for you in voice replacement for film.
So, read thinking that you are the character; the producer; the writer.
Listening with your new ear for drama will get you to enjoy reading more, too!
Here are several examples of dramatic reads on my demo site.
Donna Reed is a professional voice-over talent specializing in promos and animation. She is currently the voice for TV news stations and documentaries for the travel industry, and is the author of other published articles about voice-over including Get Yourself Heard. She is also a mom who knows the value of frozen dinners.


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