This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post from Helen A. Howell, a frequent Tuesday Serial contributor, on the subject of recording audio files.  Here at Tuesday Serial, we have seen writers extend and engage their readership by recording podcasts of their fiction so we asked Helen to tell us how she got started and include some notes on the technical process.  

Creating Audio Files – I’m a beginner—And it’s not that hard! – by Helen A. Howell

I love listening to stories that are narrated. I remember when I was living in England I use to listen to Book at Bedtime on the radio — I wonder if they still broadcast this?  (Editors note: it’s still on the air) The way the narrator would bring the author’s words to life was just wonderful to hear, and enhanced my enjoyment of a story well told, both by the author and the narrator.

A short time after I joined the Friday Flash community, I came across some flash fiction that was being narrated under the hash tag of #spokensunday, on twitter, and thought, I could do this.  Voilá, that’s how I got started making recordings of some of my flash fiction.

As my title of this post says, I am only a beginner at podcasting/audio files. Now, I guess you can get all types of sophisticated equipment to undertake this task, but me, I’m not very techno and so I chose the easiest way I could find to make these recordings.  How do I do that?

I use quick time player to record my audio. When I am satisfied with the result, I then save it to my desk top as a movie file. Next I import it to i tunes. Once there I then make an advanced copy and turn it into a mp3 file.  I then drag this file onto my desk top ready to import into my website. In order for this sound file to appear on the same page as the story, you will need a plug in that allows you to have an in-line player.

What I’ve outlined above is a very simple procedure, (it needs to be for me!) But there is a drawback to using the computer’s built in microphone as an audio recorder. It will pick up all background sounds, even someone talking in the next room, or a bird twittering or screeching outside your window. So you have to find a quiet place to do the recording and check that the mantel clock isn’t going to strike the hour right in the middle of your story.

People have often remarked on how much they have enjoyed my recordings, and it may seem effortless and easy to the listener. Easy to do, yes, but effortless it is not. Before making  a recording I usually have a few practice reads of the story. I have in my head how I think the various characters should sound, and the run throughs are to help me get these voice inflections correct.  I think one of the most difficult ones I have ever tried to do, was the voice of a character that was a cat. The attempt to get that cat-like voice I could hear in my head when I wrote the character— into audio, was indeed a challenge but  fun at the same time.

Having done the practice reads, I then set about recording, which I hasten to add doesn’t always go smoothly, especially if  one of my cats barges into the room just as I’m completing it and meows loudly. The whole thing has to be scrapped and started again.

Not all stories lend themselves to narration. Some may disagree but it is what I have found in practice. Having said that, I do enjoy making these recordings and I do feel they add an extra dimension to my work.

Creating an audio file doesn’t have to be difficult or too technical, so take a look at what programmes your computer has, clear those vocal cords and get recording— I’d love to listen to you!  You can listen to me by clicking Helen’s Audio Recording Podcasting.

Helen is a fiction writer, who writes in several genres which include fantasy, noir, horror and humour. She has written several short stories, flash fictions, poems and completed her first novel, a children’s fantasy fiction. Her work has been published in print and in e-zines. She is a member of Friday Flash Dot Org. and is a regular participant in writing Friday Flash. She can be found at her blog “Helen Scribbles.”