the right tool for the job

As I've mentioned before, I now use my Kindle for pretty much all my draft revisions. I put the draft on the Kindle, mark it up, make the revisions on the computer, and then repeat the process. Saves a lot of paper and toner.

But it has another advantage as well, which I didn't anticipate. No matter what I see in the draft, I can't change it right away. I have to wait until I get back to the computer. This delay is good, because I find that at least 25% of the edits I mark never get made. Either I decide they are not necessary after all, or something bugs me but I can't think of an alternative that's really an improvement.

But now I've found whole new way that the Kindle can be used in the editing process. I've read in a couple of places recently about the advantages of reading drafts out loud. Well, I can't really imagine sitting around reading my drafts to myself. For one thing, if I'm not seeing a problem when I read silently, am I going to notice it when I read it out loud?

So, I decided to try the Kindle's Text-to-Speech feature. It takes whatever book you've got on screen and reads it to you. You have a choice of a male or female voice (definitely a female voice for Stevie One 🙂 ).

It's not the same as a person, of course. For example, when it sees "read" it doesn't know whether it should say "reed" or "red." And for some reason it pronounces "ma'am" as "mom" (I'm going to write to them about that). And of course it is somewhat mechanical.

But those are minor quibbles. I've listened to Stevie One all the way through, and I found quite a few problems. For one thing, there were two or three places where a short word was simply missing. I guess I've been filling in the words without thinking about it when reading (and I might do the same if I was reading it out loud to myself), but each error was immediately obvious when I heard it spoken.

I also found a few other things to fix, such as a couple of phrases that I used too often.

If you have a Kindle, and a draft you're working on, try this out.

Now I'm going to listen to the Jan Sleet mystery stories. 😉


Later: Since this morning when I posted this, I've been listening to Stevie One a second time through. I've found a "the" that should have been a "she," and two doubled words ("was was" and "had had").

Amazon should hire me to do commercials. 🙂

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2 Responses to the right tool for the job

  1. Maggie says:

    I never thought of having something else read to me other than myself or another living person. That sounds like a good technique.

    And you’ve practically sold me on the Kindle. 🙂

    • If you are thinking about a Kindle, partly for the Text-to-Speech, my advice is to wait a couple of weeks. The most recent version (Kindle Touch) is out of stock, maybe forever. The text-to-Speech feature has always been classified as “Experimental” (like the MP3 player and the web browser) and there’s no guarantee that the new Kindles will have it. I expect they will, but there’s no way to be sure until it comes out.

      The new Kindle (the PaperWhite) will be out in a couple of weeks. Once it’s out, you can find out if it has that feature. If not, here are probably still Kindle Touch units out there, or the older Kindle Keyboard is still available.

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