Readings Tips (Given to and Discussed with Undergraduate Creative Writing Majors for Their Senior Year Readings)

Joseph Scapellato

This is a performance. Privilege the performance first, the work you've written second. Or, privilege the work you've written through the performance you'll be giving. Before you get there, up there, practice reading the work you've written. Practice out loud, by yourself or with others, at least once. Preferably twice. Thrice. When you get there, up there, greet your audience. If you like, include in your greeting a comment or thought or two before you read the work you've written. Including a comment or thought or two will likely make your audience smile or laugh because your audience will want you to be comfortable, and even if they don't, they at least want to smile or to laugh. But be brief. Thank the people you wish to thank. Now you are ready to read--to perform the work you've written. Know the first line of the work you've written that you'll be reading. Deliver the entirety of this first line while making eye contact with your audience. Make occasional eye contact with your audience throughout your reading. Vary where you look and who you look at. Don't be bored with the work you've written that you're reading. Don't appear to be bored with the work you've written that you're reading. Don't look like you don't want to be there, up there, even if you don't want to be there, up there. This doesn't mean that you need to look like you would rather be there than anywhere else, but err on the side of enthusiasm. Avoid being monotone by varying the pacing of your voice--naturally--like you do, every day. In conversation. Go more slowly than you think you should. When you finish, make eye contact with your audience, wait a moment, and don't flee. Thank your audience. They have watched and listened to you perform the work you've written. Flee. • (Author photo by Kelsey Byers Photography)

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