My Narrator Rating System Explained

Books, bookcase, sci-fi books
Books on shelves

How my Narrator rating system is determined here at NarrationZone.

Ok, I have been thinking for a while on a rating system for the Narrators that I write about.  It’s a tough issue with me, because so many things cannot be so easily categorized.  Or they fall somewhere in between.

Maybe I am just an ‘everything is grey’ kind of person.  You know, that annoying person who can see both sides of each argument and so therefore can’t pick a side.

I don’t really think that I am that bad. I am not a ‘MY way or the highway’ kind of person true, but I can put my foot down now and again when I believe it’s needed.

It’s just that I want to see the good in all and not waste my time focusing on the bad.

So you won’t (or shouldn’t anyway) see me posting about Narrators that I truly don’t like.  It’s a waste of my time, and I think a waste of yours as well.  I would rather focus on those that show talent in some format, and share that talent with you.

Realistically I look at in these terms.  If they can at least do a better job that I could, then they deserve at least a #1.  I love to read, and I have always read out loud to my kids who seemed to enjoy it, but I know my talents have not been developed there.

So a #1 would be one step above me reading it.  I think I am good, so that would make a #1 say…a good+.

My #2 spot would go to someone who is more skilled in Narrating, by perhaps using good timing or pronunciation.  Possibly someone who has a smooth flow or rhythm to their narration, but typically in a one person setting.  So a good natural voice narrator.

This could be someone reading their own book.  Since it’s more personal for them, they read it with a more natural sense of timing that possibly wouldn’t show up in someone else’s work.  Or someone who only does good in one voice settings. Documentaries, histories, memoirs, etc.

My next rating #3 is for talented individuals, usually professionals, who read exceptionally well.  Tone, inflection, timing, and understanding and talent for engaging the reader’s attention and keeping it.

These individuals are easy to listen to, and they can usually do more than 1 voice accurately and consistently.  Often times they are trained actors. However, they are not as strong when doing voices too far outside of their natural voice.

As an example, a man who can do multiple male voices, but when doing female voices, may not be as convincing.   Or perhaps a British women, trying unsuccessfully to do an Irish accent, etc.

And then there is my top rating #4. These individuals have to show significant talent in creating multiple voices from men to women, to creatures great, small and imaginary.

They are few and far between, but they ARE out there.  It is the search for these talents in particular, that gets me truly excited.  And excited to share my finds with you.

In this, the first day of 2017, I wish for you health, happiness, and many more Happy Listening days to come.

Special Mention – Anne McCaffrey – Author

Anne Inez McCaffrey, born April 1st 1926 in Cambridge Massachusetts, died November 21st 2011 in her home, Dragonhold, in Ireland.  She was the first woman to win a Hugo Award, and the first to receive the Nebula Award.  Inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.  The White Dragon, published in 1978, was one of the first science fiction novels to appear on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Here is just a sample of the Anne McCaffrey books that I have in my library. Primarily from the Dragonriders of Pern series.  I believe I have read or heard all in this series over the years.  I have read many of her other works outside of the Pern sets as well.  Several from the Crystal Singer series, and several of her short stories.  And still there are so many more to go!

Bookshelf with books
Sample of Anne McCaffrey books

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I was introduced to Anne McCaffrey’s work one summer when I was about 12 I believe.  (It might have been 13.)  My first book was Dragonsong.  Of course that’s not the first one in the series, but it was the beginning for me to Anne’s work, as well as a beginning into the fantasy fiction realm.  And I have been hooked ever since!

I used to re-read her books (those that I owned anyway) about every 2 years.  And then I found audio books and I started all over again.  There have been new books to add to the family as the years have passed, including new books preceding the original ones.

DragonsDawn for example goes back to the first settlers on Pern, and the original creation of the great dragons, but the book itself wasn’t published until 1989.  That was about 10 years after I had read Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums, Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and A White Dragon!

I saw an interview with Stephen King where he said that for him the stories come and they have to be told (or something like that).  It wasn’t as if he sat down and had to fight writer’s block to come up with something.  Rather he would get ideas that would simmer in his mind, often mingling with other ideas until a story developed that pretty much wrote itself.

From the interviews that I heard with Anne, it appears that it was very similar for her.  The stories just tumbled out.  Of course the hard part was making sure that the timelines, and specifics remained consistent, but she had a lot of help with that.

She surrounded herself with family, friends, and fans who helped to keep the details accurate.  I guess most prolific writers can be summarized as being ‘big picture’ people who can soar when they have detail driven people to keep them tethered to the ground.  Funny!  I’m claiming that as an original quote unless someone wants to prove me wrong:)

Anyway, Anne McCaffrey has always been one of my favorite authors, and I will continue to enjoy her life’s work for many years to come if I am that lucky.

Anne’s son Todd co-wrote with Anne on the Pern series before her death, and here Todd McCaffrey talks about Anne at the San Diego Comic Con.

Thank you Anne for leaving us such beautiful stories!

Special Mention – Terry Pratchett

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” Sir Terry Pratchett

2015 a great loss to the Literary world.

Special Mention to the late Terry Pratchett, the author of the Disc World Series, and many other wonderful works.  One of the most amazing Fantasy worlds ever imagined.

The first audio book I heard of Terry Pratchett’s work was ‘Thud’.  Not the first one in the Disc World Series of course.  I rarely ever seem to go in order.  But I became so intrigued with his characters, and the subtle sarcasm that permeates every conversation.  I’ve never heard a writing style that was so subtle, and so obvious at the same time.  Maybe it’s because I tend to notice details in writing that I find the humor so prevalent and simply perfect, but I’ve never heard another like it.  Of course the fact that he had the most amazing narrators to bring his written words to life, only made the experience that much more astounding to me.  I believe that was the first book that I ever listened to where one narrator portrayed so many completely different characters in such a realistic and consistent way.  It truly opened my eyes to what I had been missing for so many years.

After I listened to the audio book, I found the physical book for sale at the library, and I read it.  What I found was now that I had heard the characters created in auditory form, when I read the physical book I could ‘hear’ the conversations in my imagination, just as they had been in the original audio book.  What a happy revelation!  It’s so much more than I could have imagined on my own.

For those out there who have never read or listened to a Terry Pratchett book, if you like Fantasy Fiction, you have to give these a try.  If you noticed from my previous posts, 2 of my very favorite Narrators noted here, Stephen Briggs and Nigel Planer, have many Terry Pratchett books to their credit.  And they are a credit to the books.  This is a perfect example of combining a great writer with a great narrator to create truly exceptional works.

I was terribly saddened to hear of Terry’s passing in 2015.  He was a one-of-a-kind special talent.  However, he left a fantastic library of his creations for us and future generations to enjoy.  When you think about it, that’s one heck of a legacy!