This is just a quick post today, but man, what a post! So I picked this tip up yesterday browsing through Dean M. Cole’s site (the author of Solitude) and I can’t believe it never occurred to me. By the way, go check out Dean’s site. He’s a hell of a writer and a great all around guy.
No matter how many times you proof read a draft, there are always going to be errors and mistakes that slip by. You’ll never catch them on your own (you may only catch half of them) because the story is fresh in your head and, let’s face it, you can only read a thing so many times before it becomes ingrained in memory and you stop processing the words on the page.
We try to compensate for this with beta readers; people who read the really rough draft and tell us where we’re screwing up (my wife is a big help here and, no, you can’t use her for your own stuff – go get your own). With their fresh eyes, they pick out so many things that you never would have seen including typos, clunky sentences, plot holes, or weak characters.
But what if there was a way for you to cut out the majority of the typos and clunky sentences before the draft even got to your beta readers, thereby freeing them up to focus on the stuff us authors really care about: plot, story structure, characters, and overall reader satisfaction?
What I’ve learned from Cole is that running your manuscript through a text to speech converter (essentially, you are having your own story read back to you) will expose almost all of the typos and poorly structured sentences to you before the draft ever gets into another set of hands. You are essentially automating a fresh set of eyes for your story, which enables you to deliver a more polished piece of work to your readers downstream in the process. Utilizing such a tool will make the overall process of editing much more straightforward and painless.
There are several tools out there (in fact, Microsoft Word even has the ability built in) but I’ve stumbled across a pretty nice free natural language converter, which you can get here. Get the download version and run one of your stories through it. If there are any errors or problems, you’re almost guaranteed to hear them.
- You have to really listen to the tool as it plays. If you tune out and listen in the background while you do other stuff on your computer, this isn’t going to do anything for you at all.
- This won’t catch improper use of homonyms (to/too, there/their, etc).
- If you are writing outside of your native language, the ability of this tool to point out clunky wording or poor sentence flow will be limited (especially if you are writing in English and speak English as a second language; I swear, all of the rules in the English language are simply dumb).
Good luck and happy editing!