There really is no better way to test your writing than to read it out loud. Repeated and missing words become obvious, clunky phrasing stands out like a sore thumb, and over reliance on either narration or dialogue is quickly identified.
Whether you read your work out loud after every edit, or only as a final draft, it’s bound to be already a valuable part of your writing toolkit.
However, it’s easy to still miss things when you are reading your own work. The human brain is great at making sense of the written word, even when it doesn’t make sense. It’s also possible to get caught up in the story and stop listening analytically, or worse – get distracted and let your mind drift! There is also the mechanics of reading your work out loud. Your voice can get tight and sore, especially if you are reading a novel.
Recently I’ve started using Word’s text to speech option to help with editing. I found it a bit off putting at first. The voice has a strange accent and pronounces some of the words in an odd way (tears, for example, is always pronounced as to rip something rather than as to cry).
However, I’ve found a couple of invaluable benefits to using an artificial voice that have made it my preference over a human.
The computer reads every word as it is typed. It never skips over a repeated word, a misspelled word, or the wrong word choice. This makes finding errors so much easier than reading out loud yourself, or even getting someone else to read to you.
I can increase the speed of the voice so the words still make sense but I can move through the document faster. If I were to read out loud at such a pace, I’d concentrate so hard on my speaking that I wouldn’t be able to pay attention to what I was saying!
If your writing can be read out loud by a strangely accented artificial voice, with no inflection, and unusual pronunciation, and sound okay, you know you are getting somewhere.
Have you tried Word’s text to speech? What did you think of it?