Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hearing 93,000 Words

My apologies for missing my commitment last week. My summer is busier than my school year: one week in Louisville, one week home, six weeks in New Hampshire, a lot of new students, a lot of student stories to wade through, and my own family and writing.

One of the more interesting, time-consuming, and useful tasks recently involved editing a finished manuscript. My agent read a novel I wrote five years ago and completely rewrote over the past six months. I really liked the novel when I finished it in late June, but Julia Lord asked one question. It was a good question, one regarding a question raised by the opening scene of the novel, and one that may or may not have been answered in the story's conclusion. To know if the answer was there, I needed to go through the entire novel again.

So I went back to the manuscript for one more look. But this time – and for the first time since I started writing – I listened to the book, using the text-to-speech option on Microsoft. I chose the voice (warning: you will not find Sean Connery's among them), adjusted the pace, and listened to all 93,000 words over three afternoons. (My excuse for missing my post.) 

I'm dyslexic and essentially learned to write by listening to a handful of Robert B. Parker unabridged novels (over and over and over) on cassette, so maybe this works better for me than for most. But I doubt it. I caught missing words. I caught repetitions. And I caught the answer to Julia's tough question. 

At the very least, you should give it a try. Go to System Preferences, then Speech, and finally Text-to-Speech. 

Listen to a scene you are working on, or a chapter, and let me know how it goes:


Rick Blechta said...

I am going to do that. I'm also willing to pay for a Sean Connery plug-in if Microsoft comes up with it. Or maybe it would be interesting if MS came out with a Steve Jobs plug-in...

Charlotte Hinger said...

This is incredible! Is your program Word?

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I'm going to try this too. I didn't even know that feature was there.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Rick, where is system preferences located?