Editing Tip: LISTEN UP.
Re-reading the same text again and again can be mentally exhausting to the point that your brain doesn’t immediately register out-of-place (or absent) words and punctuation.
I find it is extremely helpful to utilize the text-to-speech function most PCs are capable of these days.
I’m on a Mac, myself, and with a few clicks of my mouse, I can actually add my work to my iTunes as spoken tracks.
You can do this two ways (probably more, but here are the easiest):
I’ve been writing in Scrivener, which is a fantastic program I cannot rec enough. Try it out.
Simply highlight the text you would like recorded (I opted to record each chapter individually), right click, and choose the Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track option.
Choose the voice you would like to speak the words (I went with Alex as his “American” pronunciation is appropriate for the text, but if you are on Lion or higher, you can download extra voices under System Preference > Dictation & Speech by clicking on the available System Voices and selecting “Customize”).
Give it a minute or two depending on how long your piece is in terms of word length, and the files will show up in iTunes.
You can customize the files if you want to feel extra legit as a writer.
Now you simply read your work while listening to the spoken track.
Any minor mistakes (especially issues like missing determiners that are easily missed during a general read-through) will be immediately evident. It is also good to hear the words spoken aloud by “someone else” to reveal fumble-y grammar and awkward sentence structures.
This is particularly useful once you’re on your final draft and looking to be especially thorough.
Another way to do this on a Mac (if you don’t use Scrivener) is to:
- save your file as a .PDF,
- open it in Preview,
- highlight all text,
- right click and follow the same steps as above. :)
Now, this method isn’t perfect as the voices are robotic in quality and the pronunciations can be bizarre (“No.” is read as “Number,” for instance because the system reads it as the abbreviation rather than as a statement.) But if you are working on a long piece, TTS is far easier than reading it aloud to yourself.
Windows users can use Audacity or Verbose to achieve the same result, but I’m not sure if the new system allows you to save TTS as audio files in the same way you can on a Mac without the outside software. I would assume you can somehow, but I’m definitely not the person to ask as I haven’t used Windows in years. Oops.