We read our stories aloud, and can’t recommend it enough to other writers.
No matter how many times you read something on the screen, you will always pick up extra problems reading aloud. Awkward sentence construction, words that don’t fit, repetitive sentences and other issues. Even so, we still read what we expect to read, so sometimes we miss glaringly obvious bloopers, particularly words that don’t belong.
For example, until the second edit, the first sentence above was (my emphasis):
We read the our stories aloud
That’s why we love it when our mother comes visiting and takes part in the read-throughs, for she reads every word.
Alas, she’s gone home now and we’re looking for alternatives.
One such alternative is the ‘Speak selected text’ function in Microsoft Word.
‘Speak selected text’ works well for finding words that shouldn’t be there, and really well to show pacing.
How it works
Use Andrew Gordon’s You Tube video How to enable Text To Speech in Microsoft Word 2010 to add the ‘speak selected text’ button to your Quick Access toolbar. You only have to do this once. Once it’s on the toolbar, it stays there.
Then, highlight the text you want read aloud, and click on the ‘speak selected text’ button. Voila, spoken words.
Some things we have learned
It works better in Windows 8 than it does in Windows 7. Our desktop PCs are Windows 7 and some words are spoken normally but some are spoken really fast. It’s quite strange. Windows 8.1 is lovely. Both our laptops are Windows 8.1.
Also, with Windows 8.1 you have a choice of three narrators. One male, two female (David and Hazel), and one of the females (Zira) has a British accent. With Windows 7 you only have one female narrator.
You can change the Narration settings in the control panel to make the reader faster or louder, or change the pitch.
Speak selected text has helped identify out-of-place words, but it also helps with misplaced commas. The narrator pauses at every comma.
The only weirdness you have to accept is the way the names are pronounced. I’ve gotten used to Ean being ‘Een’, but I can’t wait to hear what the narrator is going to do with Tinatin.