Writing for Readers vs. Writing for an Audience

I’ve started writing short stories and reading them at an open mic. I’m becoming aware that there can be a difference between writing a short story that I would like to be read by a reader, and writing a short story that I intend to read out loud for an audience. I find myself trying to  balance two competing urges: Writing a story and writing a script. I want to write a story that can be read on its own, and I want to perform a story for an audience.

For instance, today I struggled with wording that went something sorta kinda like this:

“You don’t have to do that.” His voice dropped lower. “I could make it go away.”

If I was writing that for a reader, stating that his voice dropped lower is essential – I’m not aware of many ways to tell you that his voice dropped lower without telling you that his voice dropped lower.

But I was writing this knowing that I would probably perform it, and I don’t want to say “his voice dropped lower” – I want to actually drop my voice lower when I’m reading his line. To help me remember to do that my short story now has notes that I’ll want to rewrite after I’ve performed it.

“You don’t have to do that.” (drop voice lower) “I could make it go away.”

I want that visual cue, because if I forget to lower my voice during the reading, I might deliver a different message to the audience than I intended when I was writing it. Which probably wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Or – also from a performance/live reading perspective, I could just leave it as the original:

“You don’t have to do that.” His voice dropped lower. “I could make it go away.”

…and then fluctuate my voice to drop lower as I’m reading “His voice dropped lower.” I’m guessing this is how audiobooks and author readings work.

I do actually find this all to be quite exciting and fun. It’s not stressful; this is more like:


Image is the "do ALL the things!" meme (allie brosh - excited cartoon person holding a broom and punching the air in excitement) with the text "Play with all the possibilities"

Any of you writer-type people run into this? If so, what have been your thoughts?

Writing for Readers vs. Writing for an Audience
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5 thoughts on “Writing for Readers vs. Writing for an Audience

  1. 1

    ‘Writing a story and writing a script’
    Right there with you, Brianne; the novel I’m working on depends on a great deal of dialogue – I figured that writing it as a script would be a quick way to outline it. You might also want to try writing in markdown or fountain which can be converted to other formats and gives you the option to have comments and other indicators not print when you don’t want them to.

  2. 4

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