For a long time, the final step of our editing process was reading our work aloud. Actually speaking the words helped us catch small mistakes that might linger in a manuscript, and it ensured that the words on the page sounded…right, and that the sentences flowed well. For short stories, this wasn’t too bad (although it did require a tall glass of water nearby). For our novels, it proved not only difficult, but really time consuming. By the time we’d get through the second-ish chapter, our voices would be hoarse, and we’d have to call it quits.
We still listen to our stories as the final stage of the writing process, but we now use a computer program to read our text to us. We use a free program called Natural Reader, but there are countless options out there–both free and paid, if you’re interested. Yes, the voice of our program is a little robotic (think of an even more choppy Siri–which is actually kind of cool/appropriate for certain parts of our ongoing fantasy/sci-fi serialization), and sometimes she (we find the female voice easier to listen to) mangles a word or two. There are also a lot of pacing issues (the program doesn’t pause at a double hyphen, but rather barrels right through it), and we still sometimes have to read passages ourselves. But it’s been a huge help for us, not only in terms of saving our vocal chords, but also in that it’s really easy to pause the reading and make corrections to the manuscript on the fly.
Now all we need is a Morgan Freeman-style voice option and we’d be all set ;).
Other writers out there, do you read your work aloud when you edit? Do you already use a reading program? If you do, which one do you use? Any readers out there–do you ever use a program to read a book to you? Let us know in the comments! Thanks as always for reading,
W & W Sawday