He Said/She Said When Reading Aloud

Last Monday, I wrote about reading aloud. I’m on a bit of a discovery mission and figuring out how to do this well.

I think if you’re an actor or have training as an actor, this might come easy to you. For those of us that have only read aloud to children, it’s hard.

After creating a recording of a short story, I quickly discovered listening to a story is different than reading a story.

When a person reads the story they see the paragraph breaks between speakers. This tells them the speaker has changed. When listening the person doesn’t have the visual to aid in understanding the change of character.

So if you’re not a person who can talk in many voices, what do you do?

I’m trying to add he said/she said in the audio version. Sometimes placing the tag before the spoken sentence instead of after of adding the tag near the beginning. For example:

“Thanks,” Bob said. “I need to hear that.”

The other option is to add a character movement or action before they speak. Something simple like: She sighed.

I’m not sure if this is a proper method for reading aloud.

Any suggestions on how to do this?

Thanks for reading . . .


4 thoughts on “He Said/She Said When Reading Aloud

  1. You raise a great point. Are you making an audio to go along with your book? When I taught, I noticed that it helped to precede new points, as you are suggesting, with a transition phrase to help everyone follow along. I could do it with non-verbal gestures, but often students were not paying attention to me, per se, but they were still listening. I used, e.g., Considering another point of view…., or Moving on to the next concern…, or Turning to page 3…. The more I think about it now, maybe I was dealing with the same issue you are raising. Fair winds. Ellen


    1. Ellen, I’ve written a short story that I was thinking about putting up as a podcast. I’m going to try Audacity software along with Garageband to see which works better for me. So fare I’ve added transition phrases to the original text and bolded the added words. I’ve also found that viewing the text at 400% makes the screen look like a teleprompter and I read better – by that I mean less stuttering or tripping over words. I have a feeling this is going to take a while. Thanks for the comment and insight into how you read aloud. Kristina


  2. These are interesting thoughts on an intriguing project!
    I’ve had the good fortune to have a critique partner who is an actor (I know, so lucky! : ) ) and he is constantly on me to take the commas and ellipses out of my dialogue and let the reader put the pauses in for himself. I write the dialogue the way I hear it in my head and so end up with all this extra punctuation!
    Maybe the speakers in your story distinguish themselves by certain speech patterns? Do they speak slowly, with thoughtful pauses? Or do they run out of breath?
    Since you’re reading lines aloud, maybe you could put the pauses in, or even punctuate the text with your proposed inflections.
    Adding actions and beats is another great idea. 🙂


    1. Kirsten, I like the idea of changing the punctuation from a read version to a spoken version. Then it doesn’t have to be grammatically correct, and it gives a clue to what the reader should be doing. I’m going to try this and see what happens. I’m also looking at teleprompter software. I’ve never used a teleprompter, but if it works for professionals, maybe it’s worth a try.


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