Romance Audiobook Narration: Dual vs Duet

I’m quite a recent convert to the world of audiobooks and I can’t quite believe it’s taken me so long to realise I can get my fix of romance novels while doing my mundane daily tasks!

But with audiobooks comes a whole new set of terminology that I need to get my head around. The most confusing being dual and duet.

Now this is a different dual than a duel from a swashbuckling historical romance.

And a different duet than those godforsaken stories split over 2 books.

So here’s a quick and dirty guide to the types of audiobook narration.

Dual Narration:

Dual narration is very common in romance audiobooks as it matches the way many novels are written.

That is that each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different character – usually hero then heroine, back to hero, etc etc.

Dual narration mimics this with each narrator reading the chapter that is written in their character’s viewpoint. So the male narrator reads the hero’s part and the female narrator reads the heroine’s part.

If there is conversation in a chapter, the single narrator for that chapter reads it all, often affecting a slightly different voice for the other person.

An easy to remember it is the dual narration is like a duel – each character being separated from the other and never directly interacting – much like facing off across a field at the start of said duel.

Duet Narration:

Duet narration is becoming increasingly popular in romance novel audiobooks especially in those books which are part of a larger series.

In this type of narration, each narrator reads the chapter that’s written in their character’s viewpoint. So again, the male narrator reads the hero’s part and the female narrator reads the heroine’s part.

However, in this style of narration, when there are conversations, each narrator speaks the lines spoken by their character. So in each chapter we can have actual conversation going back and forth with the narrators effectively speaking to each other, one after the other.

Of course, where there are more characters – such as brothers of the hero who are likely to get their own stories, for example, other narrators can voice those parts, and speak the dialogue for that character. In those cases we’ll have 2 main narrators and other narrators described as ‘also featuring’ or similar.

A trick for remembering this style of narration is to think of a singing duet. The singers are signing together just as the narrators are speaking together, or in the same booth together recording, as if they are the singers.

Of course there are other styles of narration, namely:

Single Voice:

Simply, a single narrator reading the whole book.

Full Cast:

This type of narration is more common in plays or where a book can be modified into a more cinematic type of production.

In Full Cast narration, each part has a separate voice/narrator and each person speaks their lines. Often, cinematic effects are added to make the scenes more dynamic and dramatic.

I hope that helpfully explains the types of narration you can get in your audiobooks. And if you haven’t given them a try, romance audiobooks are a great way to get your romance fix no matter where you are or what you’re doing!

* You can, of course, have two male or two female (or multiples of) narrators in a romance book. I chose hero/heroine, male/female for ease of explanation.


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