In this post, I wanted to let you know a free way to enable text-to-speech (read aloud) that works on every operating system, and with every word processing program, everywhere, all the time, and forever. Adobe Reader can do it, and it is free.
Why use Text-To-Speech?
I use text-to-speech to find spelling/formatting errors, or to listen to the flow of a particular section. So for any short work, say the back-cover blurb on a book, or a query letter, I use text-to-speech, so I can hear what it sounds like. Basically this is a process where a computer generated voice reads my words back to me.
Hold On... [I'm detecting some sarcasm from the anti-tech crowd...] Yes, I know I can just read it to myself out loud. But sometimes my brain fills in the gaps, and I still miss errors. For example, look CAREFULLY at this triangle below. I used this very example in a science fair project in second grade by the way. But back then I used crayon.
Did you notice the word "for" is repeated twice? It is difficult to tell at times when a word repeats over a line break (which usually happens to me after I edit something).
You certainly noticed the word "anything" is misspelled. Likely, your spell check would find it. BUT if you are a fantasy or scifi writer, you may make up new words to describe the setting/world of your novel. So you might ignore spell check sometimes, especially if you are using a lot of made up words in a particular section. I use the word "lunkers" in the first scene of a novel to describe gremlin-like creatures, and thus I missed a misspelling of the word "lurk". I had read that opening section 100 times! And I still missed it.
Eric, Your Anecdotal Evidence Convinced Me! How Does Adobe Reader Work?
This is Adobe's free product. Step 1 is to save your current work in progress as a PDF. You can just use File-Save As, or whatever "Convert to PDF" button you have in your word processor (MS Word, etc.). Many word processing programs already have a text-to-speech ability built in. But this blog post is for those of us that don't have that, or aren't happy with it.
So now that you have a PDF, open it with Adobe Reader. Then choose View->Read Out Loud -> Activate Read Out Loud
Now that Read Out Loud is enabled, you can choose View->Read Out Loud ->Read To End Of Document and then click on your pdf. The computer should start talking to you. You can also choose to stop, start, or read by page, using the same menu.
TIP: If you press SHIFT and CTRL and C at the same time, it will automatically pause the reading. This is super helpful as you're editing your work
What if Adobe Reader Doesn't Read?
This is a common problem. The issue is usually that you have your sound off or you need to uncheck one box.
If your sound is on, and the reader still isn't working, click on Edit->Preferences and then choose Reading (see the graphic below). Uncheck the "Use Default Voice" box, and select another voice.
TIP: This is also a great place to change the narrator's voice, and the speed by which they read to you.
I hope this helps you to find those final errors lurking (or is it lunking?) in your manuscript. I can honestly only listen to 20 pages at a stretch without taking a break, and I read along as the narrator reads, so I can locate punctuation errors.
Novels are long. You can't edit the whole thing in one setting. So edit carefully, take a measured approach, and don't forget to enjoy the life God gave you.
Copyright (c) 2018 E.C. Stever. Please don't reproduce without author permission.