Let me preface this post by saying that in my opinion, there is no app anywhere that will ever replace a good editor. Not everyone agrees with me, but I think the writers out there who can get away with skipping a professional editing are few and far between. If you are one of them, I apologize, as I don’t mean to imply there are none. But generally, I believe in a final edit by a qualified human being, the two operative words being “qualified” and “human.” 🙂 Now, having gotten that out of the way, on to what I wanted to share with you today.
I use beta readers (9, actually on a private blog) and they read my draft, chapter by chapter, as I write. This lets me know when a chapter is doing what I need it to do, so I can make immediate tweaks or changes, if I’ve failed to get my points across. After my draft is complete, I submit my work to my editor, also chapter by chapter, because that’s how I like to work, and she accommodates me, thankfully. But between the completion of my draft, and any submissions to my editor, I revise each chapter myself, making any obvious corrections I spot, rephrasing here and there, and running the chapter through editing software. I use SmartEdit most of the time, but there are quite a few out there.
The last thing I do before sending the chapter to my editor is listen to it on NaturalReader. A fellow local writer, Gerald Darnell, told me about this program, and I was astounded at how helpful it was to listen to someone else read the chapter aloud. Doing it myself just isn’t the same. Following along on my monitor as the chapter is read by NaturalReader has cut my typos, especially missed words like to, and, and the, down to next to nothing. And before I started using it, those would often get by all 11 sets of eyes checking the drafts!
I can also pick up on sentences that are too long, or simply don’t sound quite right, and words that have been used too often. Hearing the chapters aloud makes a HUGE difference.
I can’t say enough about how helpful NaturalReader has been to me, and I thought some of you might enjoy checking it out. I had the fully paid version (with assorted voices and other options) on my old computer, but lost it. I’m now using the free version, and frankly, I find it every bit as helpful. It does stop once or twice during a long chapter, to ask if I want to upgrade, but I just click the button to continue, and it’s not a big deal for me.
You can try NaturalReader out for free here. What have you got to lose? OR you can go to the main page, paste your text into the field, and listen to it there. If you like that option, go here. And once you are anywhere on the site, you can compare the free version to the paid one and decide which is best for you. Or, while you are using the downloaded free version, you can click “OKAY” when prompted to upgrade.
I say, check it out. You might be surprised at what a handy tool it is. (BTW, it will also read web pages aloud for you, should that be of interest.) It is available for both Windows and Mac.