Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Wonderful Tech: READERS
Note: This month my next post will be on the 4th Wednesday rather than the 3rd.
Reading Your Manuscript
It's always helpful when finishing up a manuscript to read it aloud. Not silently--aloud. It's amazing how many mistakes you can catch. Typos, odd flow, strange rhythms, repeated words. I try to read aloud through a manuscript when revising, before querying, or handing off a final manuscript to my critique partner or agent. It takes a good part of a day or two to read through a novel, but it's worth it. The trouble is, my throat gets quite sore and raspy by the time I'm done.
On Facebook, Terri Tiffany (thanks, Terri!!!) posted this weekend about using a voice reader application called NaturalReader for checking/editing a manuscript. I'd thought about using a voice reader before, but since I'm a diehard technophobe, I hadn't ever tried anything. But I followed Terri's link and scouted around the site. It looked pretty easy. They even had a FREE version with only one (female) voice, so I downloaded it to my desktop and installed it. It's easy to use! Just paste in a paragraph or chapter, and click Play. Even I can handle that.
The free version stops every so often and asks if you want to upgrade, but you can just click Later and continue on your merry (and FREE) way. The lowest paid version is $49, and has a choice of voices as well as other options like converting to MP3. Even with the free version, you can set the speed of the voice. I bumped mine slower than the default, to -2 or -3. The general flow isn't perfect, and it sounds quite electronic in places, but on the whole it works great and I'm happy to save my voice! I can even get up from my desk and stretch while I listen, or close my eyes to rest them. (Oddly, it actually sounds better and more natural when I close my eyes.)
I have to laugh when the app reads words like wind and object. Usually the voice says the wrong pronunciation for the meaning I want. It's amusing.
Voice Readers and Links
Some of these readers can even be put on your mobile, iPad, or other devices.
1. NaturalReader: HERE. Bottom of the page lists diffs between free & paid versions.
[Also available free for Mac; click on Free Version for Mac words on left margin: HERE]
2. Voice Dream: HERE I haven't tried this one, but others use it.
3. Dragon: HERE (Highly accurate dictation; has a moderate learning curve.)
4. Microsoft Office--has a text to voice program available. If you're techy and adventurous, you can find directions how to access it by visiting youtube or the Microsoft Office site for the version you have. I tried to follow some youtube directions, but the speech program wasn't listed on my options menu and I gave up. *shrug*
I've also heard Kindle Fires read things aloud to you. Aren't we writers lucky to live in today's advanced tech world?
Do you usually read your manuscript aloud to yourself to check for flow and errors?
Have you ever tried a voice reader? What's been your experience?
If you have a Kindle Fire, does it read to you, and do you use that feature?