When I’ve thought about “listening” in the past, it’s been in terms of music. Unfortunately, no amount of listening can improve me musical output in that I’m “tone death.” But what brought me to this post of “listening” in terms of writing was bemoaning my mental lethargy  regarding my current WIP. Then my turn came around for my Writers in Residence post! And in starting to get my mind in “posting mode,” I started rereading many of my fellow author’s posts. And there were my answers to get moving.

What I already have are setting (The Mojave of course), general main character outlines, and who gets murdered. I didn’t have – how or who’s head is the third person (narrator me) that tells the tale G.B Pool has talked about listening to your characters, but I’m talking about myself and listening to other authors on topics like…the books we’ve read or are reading… making time for writing, the words we use, and our coaches.  Heard for sure, but was I really listening?

Or even listen to my own past experiences? I’ve been stuck before…

Then there’s the listening to the off kilter “noise” in my own brain? I know, what the heck am I talking about here? Admittedly vague (I was a philosophy major ha, ha). A narrator mentioned Ambrose Bierce in a show about aliens with Willam Shatner. A perfect character! Then watching a show on the Middle East, and realizing I’m older than Israel by two years! Which suggested another character!

Midsomer Murders (with John Nettles) is my most favorite drama/mystery/suspense—based on the novels and characters written by Caroline Graham. Re-watching an episode and “listening,” I realized I could hear a symphony of great British Actors, devious plots, beautiful settings…in some ways, maybe not so tone death?

Usually I do “see” my tale in my mind, hear my characters talking, and imagine the events leading to exposing the killer. But somehow, I wasn’t even listening to myself!

And why share my mental meanderings in this post? To point out hearing, reading,sharing, etc. don’t automatically mean one is listening…and because somehow this “listening” perspective has gotten me back to the keyboard.

And therein is the bottom line, I think…if we “listen” hopefully, our readers will “hear” the good stuff in the minds and hearts our character and tales! Which leads me to thinking about better getting my readers to “listen” to the “music” in my tale… “story music” … is there even such a thing?…

All thoughts are welcome!

Happy Listening ”—oops—“, I mean writing Trails

19 thoughts on “Listening”

  1. I definitely want those who read my books to listen to the story being told by the characters and enjoy the journey they are on through those pages. If the reader doesn’t become part of the book, I missed the mark, so I try to make the word pictures vivid, the dialogue entertaining, and the plot worth their time spent with me and they come back for more. I just have to make sure I’m writing something the reader will enjoy, so I need to listen to what they might want to read and put a few of those elements in my stories as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!, Gayle, in total agreement. And getting my readers to listen, relies on my listening better! An important part of your comment I think, is having your readers become ‘part’ of your story! Coming inside rather than staying outside…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Madeline. As a freelance editor, your post made me reflect on how a lot of what I do while copyediting has to do with “listening.” Recently a screenwriter client asked me which variation of a simple last phrase in a superimposed intro to a documentary he is working on would be better: “‘…with a message more relevant than ever today.’ Or would it be better as: ‘…with a message more relevant today than ever.'” I chose the second example. Of course, both are correct, but even a simple swap like this can change things. I told him I preferred the second option as it had better rhythm and was more resonant. I now reflect that both rhythm and resonance are discerned through “listening,” and listening led me to my choice. Many interesting points in your reflections, thanks for posting.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kitty! I know from personal experience that you are an excellent editor, but it just hit me how important “listening” in a very special way is so important to you. Not only do you have to be listening to the writer, but also flipping around and “listening” to what the reader is hearing…hmmm, more for me to think about

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  3. Of course at first glance, Madeline, I thought of listening to audio books, where the words a writer chooses are maybe even more evident (and the choice of the narrator). But I can see how the writer, the author, has to first listen to the aspects of her/his story developing in her mind (plot, characters, setting). Thanks for this thought-provoking post. You always set me to thinking… and perhaps listening.

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    1. Oh Jackie, didn’t even think how audio books figured in, and as my eyes are going wonky, listen to book club selections on audio books and now thinking about that aspect of listening…ha, ha, youre the one who has gotten me thinking more…

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  4. There’s lots to listen to in the world… and in our stories, especially what our characters have to say. Always fun to figure that out. Enjoyable post!


  5. I can relate to your post, and agree with many of the comments. “Listening” to writing applies to so many aspects – the sensory details in a scene, the rhythm of the words and especially the voices of characters. When they say something that captures our attention, we’re intrigued, and when a recurring character says something that rings true to them, it rings true to us as well.


    1. So well said, Miko! Especially the rhythms of the words I haven’t yet thought about. And the thought of intrigue in what we or our readers are hearing. Very thought provoking, thanks!


  6. In real life, we all “listen” to different stimuli, and that can create the communication problems that result in compelling characters and stories. Interesting post, Madeline. You have me thinking— listening—in new ways.


    1. Yes, Maggie, and great point on character and story conflict coming from not listening! Making me think I need to rethink about how “not” listening is playing into my current WIP…


  7. Several percolating around in my brain, Steven! But once I’m really into a story, especially if trying to finish, mainly concentrate on that one–But, new story or character ideas are always popping up unbidden! Even when I’m trying to concentrate on the story in hand!

    Good to hear from you!, hope you’re doing well.


  8. Great post and has definitely got me thinking and considering just how much I rush through life and don’t stop or take a pause to listen – not just to what my characters are telling me in my books, but also what my own body is communicating (rather than my mind – aren’t writers always in their heads? I know I am!). When I’m reading a book that really resonates with me it evokes a visceral feeling that captures all my senses. I hadn’t considered just what a critical part “listening” plays in that process. Thank you!!


  9. Oh, Hannah, what truth you bring up! And for sure I don’t listen to what my body is telling me enough. In my mind, instead of the real world I’m thinking…now you’ve got me pondering even more…Thanks!


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