16.12 : Singing Versus Speaking

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard

Can you hear your writing sing, being intoned instead of read? With the dialogs as tunes whose tags say “sung” instead of “said?” When the rhythm of your prose echoes the rhythm of a song you’ll see perhaps you’ve been a poet all along.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, and mastered by Alex Jackson. Les Miserables was written by Victor Hugo, set to music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and ruined here by Howard Tayler.


Take a passage from your own work that isn’t quite working. Try to sing it: what happens when you do? Do you notice things about it that you don’t usually? Try to write it as a song — and then translate it back into prose.

Stargazer, by Dan Wells

12 thoughts on “16.12 : Singing Versus Speaking”

  1. Yes, singing is vulnerability, but vulnerability is control. That control can be manipulative, or it can be guidance, or it can be neutral, but the vulnerable person is the person in charge. (Ever been stuck alone in a room with an infant?) The one who bursts into unexpected song forces, not invites, the other to become audience – unable to interrupt, unable to criticize, unable to interact, essentially tied up with no safe word. Avocado, anyone?

  2. Sing the description of this episode to “Can you hear the people sing?”

    Trust me.

    1. Not sure how I got that wrong, because I carefully researched every bit of text I put in the credits, and I do actually know that Hugo and Dumas are different people. Oh well. Thanks for the correction. Fixed!

  3. A few weeks back on the 16.10 episode, there were a couple comments about that episode not showing up in someone’s podcast app.

    I’m in the same boat, too — using Pocket Casts (which I think may do some podcast caching across all its users). But the /feed/podcast/ link (add HTTPS and domain to start, carefully written out to avoid a link triggering comment rejection) does include the newer episodes.

    I dunno what’s up here. Anyone else know?

      1. Yeah, running into this same problem with Pocket Casts. I tried a different podcast player (AntennaPod) which shows the newer episodes. I wonder if something changed in the RSS file which is triggering Pocket Casts to not show the episodes?

  4. This week, in part two of Amal’s master class on poetry, she continued the discussion of how singing versus speaking illuminates poetry versus prose. Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard had quite a bit to say about this and other metaphors, and you can read all about it in the transcript now in the archives.

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