Here's a great one for hire, in case you're looking.) But there are times when you will have to do some editing yourself. Maybe it's to prepare a piece before sending to an agent or publisher. Maybe you're so embarrassed at your awful grammar that you want to polish it a little before sending it to your real editor. Or maybe you're just starting out in self-publishing and can't afford a real editor yet and you're not convinced your cousin Eddy did a good enough job proofreading.
What was my point? Oh yeah, every writer needs to edit their own work. Which is really hard. One, because every word is a like precious little baby (hint: they're not), and Two, you stare at those words so hard for so long that it's impossible to look at them objectively and notice mistakes. As you read, you hear them in your head the way you think they're supposed to sound, not the way they're actually written.
|Oh man, I am such a brilliant writer...|
Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology is a really cool feature that I'm sure your smartphone possesses. It does exactly what it claims, converting printed text on the screen into audio. Technically it's meant as an accessibility feature for those who have trouble visually, but it has many other uses. The biggest one is having it read your manuscript back to you, forcing you to experience your work in a new format, which will allow you to pick up on typos, incorrect grammar, weird sentence structure and a multitude of other errors in your writing. These errors become painfully obvious when read out-loud, errors that you would glaze over when you're reading it, because again, your brain and your eyes are telling you what you EXPECT to be there, not what's actually there. It's much, much harder to do that when you're listening to the story in someone else's voice.
|No, my book is awesome. You're just not reading it properly.|
Sure, the audio quality is often terrible and mechanical. Honestly it sometimes it sounds like Stephen Hawking tripping on really bad drugs. But this is actually a good thing. The computer is not trying to make the words sound good - it's just repeating back exactly what's on the page in a consistent, monotone format. There's no way you can get lost in the story or listen to the poetry of it or whatever. It's just the words, and whether or not they're the right words. If it hits a snag, it will IMMEDIATELY become apparent. Sometimes painfully so.
|I'm sorry. This manuscript is so terrible, I refuse to read another word.|
The system will work very similarly on your iPhone, though you will probably need a slightly different app to convert and possibly read your files (I'm pretty sure you can get Google Play Books on iOS).
I like using Google Play Books because it will continue reading the book aloud while I do other things, but if I hear something I don't like I can quickly pause it, highlight the offending section and then continue. When I have time later I can go back and easily go through my highlights, fixing the problems. It's all terribly convenient.
|No, seriously. I'm editing my book, right now.|
I'm sure you can use TTS technology on your desktop computer for similar effect, though I've never done it myself so I can't speak to it. If anyone has tried this, please let us know in the comments.
What do you think? Have you tried using TTS as an editing tool? I love it, but I'm sure there are detractors. Let us know in the comments below!