Monday, 4 June 2007

Text to Speech software (or how to proof-read your novel without reading it out loud yourself)

I wrote 1,300 words of the novel tonight (yay!) and then started randomly surfing the web (as you d0) and stumbled across a piece of software that an author had recommended to help you proof-read your novel. I was sceptical but, as it was free, decided to check it out anyway.

The Good News

It does what it says on the tin - you paste your text into the software (which downloads quickly) and press the play button and it reads it out.

The Bad News

It reads it out in a Stephen Hawkin type voice which doesn't make for the most natural pronunciation.

The Really Bad News

When I listened to the first 3,000 words of my novel I noticed two errors - one of them in the second sentence (I'd written 'look' instead of 'looked') and a similar error further down the first page. Crap.

Ah well - am definitely going to use this software in future (Stephen Hawkins voice or no Stephen Hawkins voice). When you hear as opposed to read your novel the errors really stand out.

If you want to give it a go here's the URL: http://www.readplease.com/

12 comments:

A. Writer said...

I love this! My synopsis sounds fantastic through this thing! lol!

Wow! I'm impressed! Okay, you're right about the Stephen Hawkin voice and terrible pronunciation but I love hearing my writing being read out to me. This is a revelation to me!

SallyQ said...

Ooh, I'll have to try that. Thanks for the link Cally.

CTaylor said...

A.writer - Glad you liked it. It's weird - although the voice is so computerised you immediately hear it if you've made a typo or a tense error *ahem*. I'm definitely going to be using it to proof-read my novel. My boyfriend, however, isn't such a fan - after listening to my laptop read out the first 500 or so words he said "I think maybe you should plug in your headphones"!

Sally - cool. Let me know what you think! How are you getting on with the YWriter software?

SallyQ said...

I haven't used the Ywriter since the first day I popped some data into it... But I have been working on short stories rather than novels. Also, I don't know right at the beginning of a novel what characters I'm going to have apart from my MC. They seem to come to me as I'm writing.

I'm going to try the voice software now. I may be gone some time...

CTaylor said...

Sally - I haven't bothered entering all my characters names into it! At the beginning I tried ot fill out the 'goal/conflict/outcome' panels for each scene but that became far too time consuming so I quickly abandoned that too! Basically I just use it so I can separate my chapters and scenes from each other.

Enjoy playing with the text-to-speech software!

SallyQ said...

I had a very egotistical twenty minutes listening to 'Stephen' (or 'Stephanie') reading my story. Trouble is whenever I used the word 'on', they said 'in'. And it was definitely on that I wanted. I even tried spelling words wrong to see if they picked it up, but they didn't. I can't say which words as they were swearwords ;-)

It is a great help though as I noticed in one story (that's already gone out eeek!) that I describe a couple as 'Mrs and Mrs'. Well in this day and age I suppose...

A. Writer said...

lol at Sally's last comment!

Yeah, I had a wee listen to the first 3k words to INN,TW? and I want to kick myself. There are two fairly obvious boobs I've made near the beginning.

I had to use the earphones as my mum wondered what on earth I was watching on the television! lol! (she doesn't know I'm writing a book or three!!!)

CTaylor said...

A.Writer - Oh no - you too! In a way I'm relieved that I wasn't the only one to make a boob at the beginning of my novel (though that doesn't make you feel any better) but I do worry that the judges will read my second sentence and think "Uh oh - this is going to be riddled with typos". It isn't judges - honestly - just two on the first page!

I am SO going to listen to my entire novel all the way through using the software after I've done several edits. Sometimes when you edit and re-edit and edit again (as I did with the first 3,000 words) you create new errors and don't even notice them!

CTaylor said...

Sally - I'm sure they'll let you off that!

Recently I re-read a story I subbed to a comp several months ago and spotted quite a few mistakes. It was quite shocking really. I think, ideally, you need several weeks between your final edit of a piece and your final proofread. Unfortunately that's not always possible.

liz fenwick said...

Cally thanks for the link. Hearing it does help because when I read it myself I read what I think should be there!!!

SallyQ said...

Well I can verify that having typos doesn't affect your chances. Yesterday I sent off my xcite runner up story to another comp. I checked it over first and found a couple of very silly mistakes, including a missing word. So maybe they're more forgiving of these things than we think, if the story is considered good enough anyway.

CTaylor said...

Oh Sally that's VERY good to hear! Thanks.

Liz - I know exactly what you mean, particularly when you know the text very well you read out what you THINK it should say!