Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lend Me An Ear

Quote of the Day:
An essential element for good writing is a good ear: One must listen to the sound of one’s prose.
~Barbara Tuchman


Several months ago, I had a discussion with a fellow writer who had purchased some software that would read her manuscript aloud. She said that hearing it aloud helped her to catch mistakes. Not only was it easier to hear the some of the typos, grammar and technical mistakes, but it really helped when it came to things like dialogue.

I often read things aloud to myself when I come upon a troublesome sentence, so I was curious as to how many other writers I knew either read their books aloud or had some sort of software that would do this for them. And I was surprised to learn that quite a few of them did.

This has been on my mind again recently, as I am (hopefully) a couple weeks from finishing my current WIP. I have been contemplating purchasing one of these software packages that will read my manuscript to me, so I’m curious again.

How many of you either read your manuscripts aloud as part of your editing process, or have them read to you by your computer or another person? Does it help?

12 comments:

Barb said...

I read my work aloud, but I would love for the computer to do it. Has anyone recommended a particular application to you?

Also, now I have a vision of the computer sounding like Hal when it's reading.

Eric said...

I haven't been doing this, but judging from the numerous writers I hear about concerning this topic, I may just start. Good post.

Scott said...

I read my work aloud. I also - well, at least according to my partner - have an irritating habit of actually saying the words as I type them, especially when I'm in a heated dialogue moment. : )

Barb - I agree with you about the Hal reference. Too funny . . . and scary if there's ever a glitch in the computer program.

S

WindyA said...

I haven't been doing this consistently, but I'm doing it with what I deem to be my "final" revision pre-curing on one of my projects. It's working out pretty well, and definitely helping me find places that need improvement.

But it definitely takes a TON longer. :)

Jamie said...

I read aloud as well when I start editing. It's amazing how much differently it sounds than when it's in my head sometimes, but it really does make it so much easier to find awkward phrasing & punctuation (easier to fix too, sometimes).

Andrea said...

I read out my work too, just for fun mostly :]

If you don't mind your manuscript sounding like a robot, you should give Microsoft Sam a go! That's a fun wee program.

Lady Glamis said...

I first read my work aloud on a trip to California with my friend. It was an amazing experience. I will always read aloud from now on! I highly recommend it to any author who's serious about their work.

ElanaJ said...

I totally read my stuff out loud. But not to myself. My Mac will read to me, using a simple keyboard command. Vicki has an awesome voice. ;)

Michelle McLean said...

I'm glad to see so many people do this :D Makes me feel less weird ;-) And Barb, my friend uses FlameReader.

christinefonseca said...

I totally have to hear my stuff outloud...HAVE TO. I either read it to my very willing kids (it is sure nice to have a young adult audience in the house), read it to myself (not nearly as effective) or have my software read it to me...

When I don't, I wind up missing things...a lot of things.

Great post.

B.J. Anderson said...

I read aloud, but it would be really nice to hear someone else reading it. I've found that it helps so much in finding places that are easily stumbled over.

kristalshaff said...

I'm the FlameReader friend. :o) (What a fun post Michelle). I typically use the program when I am on my last draft (or close to it). When you buy the program, it comes with a "Natural Voice" which is better than the normal robot sound. And also there is a pronunciation editor, so if you write fantasy, like me, you don't have to sit and listen to 120k worth of bad pronunciation. Takes a few minutes to change, but worth it in the long run.