This tip has to do with something I learned from a fellow author and reinforced as I was trying to record an audio book version of one of my novels. It may sound silly, but you can greatly improve your work by reading it aloud or by hearing it read aloud to you.
This can be a tedious exercise, but it is well worth it. I’m going to pass on an anecdote from that fellow author I mentioned earlier. It was a situation that could have been embarrassing at best and disastrous at worst.
She had written a middle school age book. All of the spelling, punctuation and grammar were pristine and she was ready for publishing. On a whim, she put the book through the ‘Speak’ utility that is part of Microsoft Word (I’ll show you how to set that up later).
What she found was, in one spot where she used the phrase, “That’s going to result in a large count”, the word ‘count’ was missing the letter ‘o’. The spelling was correct as was the grammar. The context, however, for a middle school book definitely resulted in a problem. Had she not heard her book, this might have escaped her attention.
In my own situation, I was foolishly thinking that I could record the audio version of my first book. Audio books have a huge market and I wanted to take advantage of it. One thing I learned quickly was that my book was hard to read in spots. There were very long sentences, clumsy word sequences, and other things that, when read aloud, revealed themselves.
When we read, we tend to skip over things that might be incorrect or clumsy, especially if we’ve written it. When you hear it read aloud, however, these things jump out at you like a pimple on the end of your book’s nose.
If you don’t want to go through reading your work to yourself, many word processors have accessibility settings that will read what you’ve written to you. It may seem like a waste of time, but, I promise you, it will help you improve your work.
For those of you that use Microsoft Word, I’m going to walk you through a few simple steps to set this up. This works with later versions of Word. If you have an older version, the setup might be different.
First, click the icon shown at the top of your screen:
Then, click More Commands. When you get the following screen, click the circled dropdown and select All Commands.
Next, Scroll down to the Speak command, select it, and then click Add.
Then click OK.
When you want to use the text-to-speech command, click the icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.
I hope this has helped you think about another way to improve your work. If you have any questions or anything to add please leave a comment.