paraka: A baby wearing headphones and holding a mic (Default)
paraka ([personal profile] paraka) wrote in [community profile] podficmeta2011-04-07 03:22 pm

What makes a fic podficcable or unpodficcable?

I want to know, is there anything specifically people look for when choosing fics to podfic (other than rare pairings/fandoms right now since [community profile] amplificathon is currently running :P). I mean, obviously people go for fics they like but are there elements of the writing style that will draw you in or have you backing away?

If an author wanted to write something specifically with podfic in mind, how could they go about that?

I think the obvious ones for me would be basic spelling and grammar (and few typos) just because I'm hesitant to change the author's words even if they don't make sense. If a fic doesn't have those things down, I don't even consider podficcing it.

Most of the other things that get to me are harder to pin down before a recording and it's not until I'm reading into my mic or later editing that I notice these things.

Dialogue tags: or something to help indicate who's speaking. Visually you have line breaks and text formatting to help show when speakers have switched off but that's not there in podfic. There are things podficcers can do to help (doing voices, longer pauses when speakers have switched of, etc.) but it's definitely nice.

Repetitive words: they're really obvious in podfic. "Sara jumped off the bed and looked under the bed" even look a bit wrong written but it really jumps out when read aloud. Or "John said... Cameron said... Reilly said...Derek said..." all in a row, on paper it can almost be ignored when you replace the "..." with speech but if it's used in the same spot every time someone speaks it's very noticeable in a podfic.

Vocabulary: There are a lot of words whose meanings we know but may never have heard spoken aloud. I know I've found myself rushing to a dictionary more than once in the middle of a recording. And while the odd word off won't scare me off if every second word isn't one I know would probably intimidate me into giving up.

What actually can scare me off before I even start is if you combine vocabulary with repetition. If some word I'm not confident in my ability to pronounce is featured throughout a fic I might not want to try recording it. Or it can cause problems while I'm recording, my last podfic heavily featured the word "masseur" and by the end it didn't even sound like a word to me any more :S

Language: Lots of fics can be written in one language but still feature another language within it. I don't know which is worse, a story with a human language I'm not all that familiar with or a made up alien/supernatural language. Conceivably I can look up how to pronounce a human language but, that way lies making native speakers cringe at my butchering. At least no one can tell me I'm screwing up a made up language, however since it's made up, the author may have felt things such as vowels or something are unnecessary making it super hard to pronounce.

Embedded asides: Have you ever run across sentences where mid though, the author will go on a tangent and by the time the get back to the sentence on hand you forget what was originally being said? At least when reading the words on screen, your eyes can wander back to the beginning of the sentence to see where things were left off but with audio, it's a lot harder to stop and rewind.

Huh, I was able to come up with more than I expected on my own. What do you guys think?
via_ostiense: Eun Chan eating, yellow background (Default)

[personal profile] via_ostiense 2011-04-07 08:09 pm (UTC)(link)
SIBILANTS. the close proximity of sibilants is death, because it's hard to pronounce them clearly without sounding unnatural and awkward. e.g. "Grace shed her clothes, smiling shyly:" I try to articulate words as clearly as possible, to compensate for a tendency to mumble (and wow, I didn't realize how unarticulated my speech was until I started podficcing), and when sibilants are right next to each other, they tend to mash up and run into one another unless I come to a full stop between each word, which sounds weird.
via_ostiense: Eun Chan eating, yellow background (Default)

[personal profile] via_ostiense 2011-04-07 08:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Have you ever run across sentences where mid though, the author will go on a tangent and by the time the get back to the sentence on hand you forget what was originally being said?

Asterisks/footnotes. Parenthetical asides are fine, but how do you denote asterisks? I ran into this for the first time yesterday.
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)

[personal profile] zvi 2011-04-07 08:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Note (adopt stuffy voice to read the note) Return to text (read the text in normal narrative voice.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

[personal profile] luzula 2011-04-07 09:09 pm (UTC)(link)
I usually say: "footnote", then I read the footnote, and then say "end of footnote". And like Zvi says, you can usually indicate with your voice that something different is happening during the footnote.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

[personal profile] luzula 2011-04-08 06:22 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, and also, I ran into a problem once where there was a long footnote set into the middle of a sentence. In that case I moved the footnote to the end of the sentence, because it would be hard to understand the sentence if it was split in two--you'd have forgotten the beginning when you finally got to hear the second part.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

[personal profile] luzula 2011-04-07 09:07 pm (UTC)(link)
You make some good points that I haven't thought about, and they're really concrete things. I don't think any of them are things I usually consider much, though (well, apart from the basic spelling and grammar thing, but then I probably won't even like the fic if it lacks those qualities).

For me the big one is something I can't even put my finger on, and which I often can't predict before I try reading a fic. It has to do with character voices combined with the author's style. I know that there are some characters I have a hard time with. For example, I find Geoffrey Tennant in Slings and Arrows hard to read, despite really liking him as a character. OTOH, I can easily read Billy Tallent in Hard Core Logo, even though I don't identify with him as a character at all--he's just very different from me.

Then there's the author's style. I sometimes really like an author's style, but I can still have a hard time reading it. And different styles and character voices can feel very different for me to read--some make me want to speed up, some make me want to slow down, some make me want to articulate clearly and some make me want to do the opposite.
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)

[personal profile] troisroyaumes 2011-04-07 09:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I was looking through my own fics to evaluate their, uh, "podficability" a while ago and noticed that the one with chat excerpts complete with Internet slang that would probably lose most of its effect when spoken. I imagine the same holds true for fics that feature lolspeak or Twitter conversations although I'd be interested to see how podfics might creatively tackle that sort of challenge.
jedusaur: A hockey stick with the paddle wrapped in rainbow-colored tape next to a puck, lying just above the blue line on a rink. (gerard way orgasming and/or dying)

[personal profile] jedusaur 2013-06-10 06:41 am (UTC)(link)
Partying like it's 1999 here, but if you're still interested in internet chat effects, podcath handled that really well in this podfic of my bandom fic "sing it for the n00bs".
darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2011-04-07 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I write to be read aloud because I'm primarily an auditory person. I beta from the same perspective: even reading silently, I'm reading aloud in my head a lot of the time, and repeated words and sounds pop out at me.

One of the difficulties I'm having with the long (long, long!) story I'm slowly chipping away at in podfic now is that, when all's said and done, the writer didn't write to be read aloud. There are a lot of fragmentary sentences, it's not clear where the emphasis should be in a lot of cases, and I've made more mistakes than than I usually do because of it.

The end result is longer editing, a less natural-feeling reading, and (as I'm finding) increasing resistance to sitting down to it again.

When read by eye, the story didn't reveal these characteristics.

So for my own future reference, I promise to take random pages from deep within the story I think I want to record, and try reading them aloud. If I stumble over odd rhythms and fragments, I'd probably be better off choosing a different story to record.
darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2011-04-08 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
Actually, reading aloud what I've written is an editing tip I learned long ago, and it's invaluable, just in general, for catching errors.

I look forward to your tutorial! With regard to Hard To Record Podfics, what feels like an impossible story one year may seem like a worthwhile challenge the next--as I'm sure you've learned. Technical skill and confidence are certainly a big part of the picture.

This makes me wonder whether I should approach my difficult story one more time. Maybe I've gotten better and it will be easier now!
choosetolive: (Adam Centerfold)

[personal profile] choosetolive 2011-04-08 07:42 am (UTC)(link)
I completely agree about the value of reading work aloud as an editing tool. It's a test any story *should* be able to pass, IMO, but if nothing else the dialogue should. Far too often I've read dialogue where I just have to look at it and say, "People just don't talk that way." Either in the way the sentence is composed, or in vocabulary choice - something can look good on paper but feel completely unnatural when spoken.
froggyfun365: Jensen called me what (Default)

[personal profile] froggyfun365 2014-06-11 04:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh my gosh, this made me think of a story I beta'd. There was a character in the fic who was Jamaican and she had his lines written with a Rastafarian dialect. His lines took me so long to edit because I had to try and do my best attempt at the accent and read each sentence out loud over and over again hoping to get it written out so that it was readable. I didn't record this story as a podfic but just getting it so that looking at the written word you saw the accent was a challenge.
torachan: (Default)

[personal profile] torachan 2011-04-08 06:55 am (UTC)(link)
About emphasis...isn't that going to be true of every fic? Someone's always going to read a line slightly differently than the author intended, I'm sure.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2011-04-08 07:55 pm (UTC)(link)
There are some basics (at least in English) where it's generally agreed that a certain emphasis has a certain meaning. For instance, I think most English speakers would agree on the different meanings of "You went with him?" and "You went with him?" A straightforward written narrative should make it pretty clear which the reader should use.

I'm talking about odd fragmentary sentences which, by eye, convey a general feeling-meaning (about the characters internal state, for instance) but which really cause me to stumble in reading aloud because suddenly it's not clear how they should be spoken.

It's a style of writing that just was never intended for reading aloud. Not all writing is, and writing that's not is often VERY hard to podfic well.
torachan: (Default)

[personal profile] torachan 2011-04-08 07:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmm, I don't think I really agree! I like there to be vagueness because I like people to make their own decisions about where emphasis should go. That's why I don't use a ton of italics. But at the same time, I am one who hears all writing aloud in my head while writing or reading, so it's not that my writing is not meant to be read aloud. (I can't not hear it aloud!)
podcath: podcath's default icon (Default)

[personal profile] podcath 2011-04-07 10:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, pretty much all of these. I think lack of inquit formulas and excessive repetition are the ones that'll throw me out pretty quickly. Then there's my issue with not being able to handle a huge set of characters so I kinda have a penchant for shack stories (or whatever equivalent :) where you have your two main characters doing most of the speaking and you can keep those voices separate.

As much as I adore experimental stories, I don't think I like to read or listen to them much. I like my straight forward prose for podfic.

Finally, one you didn't mention but that has really puzzled me recently: offensive terminology. It's one thing to read (or glance over); it's another to have to say offensive terms out loud. Even when they're in character, it can affect whether I want to read a story. So that's become a big point for me lately...
podcath: podcath's default icon (Default)

[personal profile] podcath 2011-04-07 11:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, fuck is one thing though and faggot and trannie another...Those were words I had in recent fic and...The first one i ended up saying, because it was Brian fucking Kinney and just seemed in character but...I have to admit I edited the other one and just dropped half a sentence. I doubt anyone would ever notice and the story was so wonderful and...I just totally CHANGED THE TEXT.... *hides head*

Casual misogyny...oh yes. I've been doing older stories, and there's a lot of stuff we wouldn't see any more today. I read one story and it wasn't really bad or really noticeable and I still loved the story to pieces but...I realized my awareness of the issues and my sensitivity level certainly had changed in the last decade!
podcath: podcath's default icon (Default)

[personal profile] podcath 2011-04-07 11:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Also re the constant fuck (I just mistyped as duck :D): In a way a story that relies on expletives may indeed show its underbelly so to speak. In other words, I may be annoyed by the repetitive swearing, but I think they may just be indicative of a story I might not enjoy otherwise....

My pet peeve...J2 and their douche bags. do not want!!!!
choosetolive: (Adam Centerfold)

[personal profile] choosetolive 2011-04-08 07:59 am (UTC)(link)
I agree with all the items on your list, and would like to add sex noises and the like. I don't mind reading porn aloud, but definitely feel awkward/uncomfortable when the gasps, moans, pleas and other noises are actually verbalized. Mainly, I feel those things are hot in the text where we have the choice of imagining the character in our heads, but as a reader I find it problematic: reading it straight is awkward and potentially silly, as often they're sounds and half-formed words. Performing it, however, is also problematic, as it makes me feel self-conscious and I'm sure that bleeds out into the fic, making the listener self-conscious, and hello to un-sexy.

This can also be applied, of course, to other instances of noise - screaming, for example.

I also agree with [personal profile] podcath's comment on experimental stories - some of those styles can be exquisite in text form, but I doubt much of it would translate well to spoken word. (however, now that I think on it some more, some of it might translate *very* well, since some of the stories I'm thinking of rely heavily on pacing and emphasis to get the feel across. Hmm. There's one for [community profile] podfic_bingo...)
choosetolive: (Adam Centerfold)

[personal profile] choosetolive 2011-04-09 01:34 am (UTC)(link)
Ah, ITA to dirty talk - honestly, even in the "heat of the moment" reading the fic, a lot of the time I'm not a fan. Definitely can't see myself pulling it off as a podficcer.

I'll let you know how I feel about your [personal profile] jeyhawk reading. ;)
laurie_ky: Robert Frost poem (Default)

[personal profile] laurie_ky 2011-04-08 10:00 am (UTC)(link)
Good points, and I know that after reading asides in a sentence, I write them a whole lot less. Also, my vocabulary has improved since I've ended up looking up bunches of words to see what they mean and how to pronounce them. is my friend.

A lot of my podfics are done for a charity auction and the bidder picks the story, so I just try and do my best with the story, even if it's one I might not have picked myself to record.