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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Text Readers

(Or, Breaking Up is Hard to Do)

I have one tool in my writing toolbox that I can’t live without. I know this for a certainty because it’s not working today.

While I’m trying to fix my tool problem (i.e. get someone to help me), I decided this would be the perfect topic for KMIS.

My wonderful tool is a text reader with a voice named Paul, and it does exactly that. It reads my text to me. Well, okay, Paul reads my text to me.

As many of our readers know, I’m a freelance content reviewer for Barbour's cozy mystery line as well as for RS Writing Services. I read a LOT of manuscripts. Aside from law enforcement errors, most of the things that I find wrong in books could be easily discovered by the author if they listened to their manuscript aloud while they follow along with a hard copy.

For me, this is essential. I never submit my final manuscript without doing this step. I find missed words—small ones that are easy to overlook, like an and it and the. I can hear where my words aren’t flowing right. Identify dialogue that just doesn’t ring true to character. I can even catch bloopers like repetitious information.

And you know what? The most amazing and disturbing thing about this is that I often find mistakes after my book has been gone over by my two end-of-the-book critique partners. And they are both gifted editors.

I add that fact to assure everyone reading this article that errors happen. We all make mistakes and overlook things. (A little bit like our spiritual lives). But that’s why checking and rechecking is important.

So, when I’ve completed a book, one of the last things I do before I send it off to the publisher is set aside two or three hours and listen to the whole thing nonstop.

There are many different text readers. Most of our computers come with one built in, but it’s not great. I bought one for a reasonable price from a company called Natural Reader. And I ordered a “real speech” voice named Paul to go with it, so my listening experience is pleasant.

I can’t say enough good things about using a text reader. It’s well worth the cost for anybody who does a lot of writing. And you can also check your e-mails and correspondence. To anyone who wants the things they send out to be as professional as possible, a text reader is invaluable.

By the way, Paul and I have been together for almost two years. I find it disturbing that he’s not speaking to me today. I’m not sure if he’s just tired or if he wants to break up. If that’s the case, I might have to go into a slight decline and spend an hour listening to Neil Sedaka singing, Breaking Up is Hard to Do.

No worries, though. I’ll recover quickly. Paul can always be replaced. By Michael.

And if you find any errors in this article, it’s Paul’s fault.


Blogger Ausjenny said...

reading out loud makes a lot of sense. I do love reading but I do tend to read wrong at times.
like twisting words like withnumbers.
i am singing hynn 452 when its 542 and wonder why everyone else is wrong! reading out loud you tend to hear the mistakes.

Oh has Paul started talking to you again or is Michael being a much better better upgrade?

2:06 AM  

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