Yesterday, having discovered the cause of certain problems, I conceded defeat and switched from using the free LibreOffice and moved to Word. This was a big disappointment for me, as I dislike Word intensely. The simple fact is, however, that I need to be able to provide manuscripts in set formats, based on templates, and those manuscripts have to be in Word doc format. Now, LibreOffice will save in the appropriate file format, but in doing so, it corrupts the page formatting! It only seems to do this, for some reason, when using a template. That means that my submissions get rejected, require considerable work by others or produce a less than desirable end result. I tried everything I could think of to fix the problem, but every time I told LibreOffice to save in doc format, the errors returned – sometimes magnified! If you’re just using the standard page layout, then there’s no problem. The thought of writing in LibreOffice and then switching to Word purely for template versions, though, just seems to be an unwanted complication.
Storytelling and the Audiobook
I my review of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen recently, I made mention of reading to children and audiobooks. I thought it might be worth expanding on the subject. Don’t get me wrong! I think audiobooks have a place, and if a child can’t get read to any other way, then they’re as good a way as any. But, I honestly believe that children should be read to by a parent, or some other loved one, whose voice is very familiar, and very comfortable. Why? Well, as I said previously, even children have some idea of what the voices of characters should sound like, and they can maintain that if they are listening to the loved one. An audiobook is acted as much s it is read. As an unfamiliar voice, often using different ‘voices’ for different characters, the audiobook can easily override the child’s own imagination. I recall reading a book and imagining a character to have a warm, homely, lovable voice. I then heard a radio dramatisation of the book and the actor had a harsh, high voice that made the character sound distinctly unpleasant. It could have ruined the book for me, if I had been younger. Yet this phenomenon had never occurred when a loved one had read to me. So I seriously believe that audiobooks should be the preserve of adults or those children who have no other option.
Why did I mention a voice being ‘comfortable’? Well, there are many fine children’s books which may have a scary bit or two. A loved one’s voice is comfortable. It can be trusted, especially to protect. A child will then enjoy the scary bits and not be unduly frightened. I doubt that this is true with an audiobook. In fact, many of the best voices in audiobooks are actually quite ‘dark’, and there would always be a temptation for the actor to use vocal tricks to emphasise the scary bits. It would be a terrible shame if books started disappearing from the ‘safe list’ because of audiobooks!
These remarks aren’t confined to audiobooks. They apply equally to radio dramatisations of books. And going beyond that, movies and television may be very damaging to books. Apart from their usual inaccurate rendering of books, the combination of actual images and voices that don’t fit the child’s imaginings can ruin a book completely, so that the child may abandon a favourite, possibly forever.
We play with such things at our peril!