The Single Most Useful Editing Tool I’ve Used – #NaturalReader

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.

 

96 thoughts on “The Single Most Useful Editing Tool I’ve Used – #NaturalReader

    • Well, sunofagun!! I’ve never seen that before, and I certainly would never have found it, if you hadn’t included the link. I will test it out, and compare, to see if there are any advantages to the NaturalReader, free version. I suspect the paid version of NR may have more options, but since I’m using the free version, I’d be just fine with using Word only, if it’s as good. I did a quick test, and it even sounds like the same voice. THANKS so much for sharing. As a Word user, this might be even handier. But I know a lot of people work in different programs, so the NaturalReader might be a better fit for them.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I just tried it in Word, and it’s fantastic! I didn’t realize the text you want read needs to be highlighted, so all I heard first time ’round was “I.” Thought the program had a glitch, but it quickly dawned on me that I probably needed to tell it what text to read. It helps immensely to hear the text read aloud. Thanks so much, Marcia and Olga 💜

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s amazing what we learn from each other, isn’t I? I’ve used Word for years and years, and never knew about this feature, or when it was added. I probably started using it before it was even there. For sure, there are LOTS of things I don’t know about the program, and it might behoove me (and you guys) to learn a bit more. But THIS was a wonderful discovery, thanks to Olga. SO glad she mentioned it, and provided that link, or I still never would have found it. The BEST people hang out here!! 😀 😀 😀

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    • Glad it helped! So far, I’m liking the Word one just fine, so for those who use Word for their writing, you can put the icon in the menu bar (Olga’s link tells how) and it’s there with one click. Highlight what you want read aloud, click the icon, and it reads. Woohooo. Word offers SO MUCH it’s pretty hard to find all the features, unless you have some time to devote to it. I’m sure happy to know about this one.

      Good luck, Carmen. Hope one of them is just perfect for you.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Works like a charm, but I’m happy to learn that Word has a built in reader, since that’s what I write in, and I think it’s going to be even more convenient. It’s nice to have choices. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Your welcome, Darlene, and if you (like me) didn’t know about the reader in Word that Olga mentions above, follow her link to see how to set it up in your Word menu bar, and try it out, too. So far, I like it as well as NaturalReader, since I don’t use the fancy version of NR, with all the voices and other options.

    Oh, the things we learn, if we stick around enough years! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds fabulous as does the reader for Word. I read my scenes aloud as I work, but the idea of having someone else do it would definitely make it easier to catch words and sentences our of sync. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you like the idea. I love NaturalReader, and I’m very happy to find out about the reader in Word. Going to start using it immediately, and will post again if I see anything that would make one better than the other. So far, so good. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re most welcome, and if you didn’t have time to check out the comments, take a look at Olga’s. There is a built-in reader in WORD, too, that I never knew existed. Her link tells you how to find it and add icon to your Menu, and it seems to work just as well as the free version of NaturalReader, though I think the paid version has additional options. Who knew? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you like the idea. If you use word, check out Olga’s comment above, though. Word has a built-in reader that I never knew existed, and her link gives you instructions on how to find it and put the icon in your menu bar. So far, I think it works as well as the free version of NaturalReader, and it’s less work, because you can make document changes as you hear the errors. The paid version of NaturalReader has more options, but they may or may not be things you need. I’m thrilled, so far, with the Word Reader. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Good! Hope you like it. Also check Olga’s comment above for a link to how to locate the Reader in Word, in case you like that one better. I never knew it existed, and I just used it this morning. Will be posting on my comparison between the two readers in a day or so. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’m using it for the next few chapters of my editing process, and will post back on any differences between the two at some point. Those of us who use word have a choice, and those who don’t can try NaturalReader. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

            • The paid version of NR has several voices and accents you can choose from, including British, if that’s any help. I have no problem with it, except that it does mispronounce some words. I laugh out loud every time mine reads “helluva thought” as “hell-ooo-va” thought. 🙂 A few other words like that, but mostly, it’s pretty clear, and there is even some inflection with questions and exclamations. Or things repeated three times, like “No, no, no.” Each one is emphasized differently. Considering it’s computer generated, it’s remarkable, really. 🙂 But the main thing is that you will hear errors you don’t see, and that’s a big help, at least for me.

              Liked by 1 person

    • Many writers have been very generous and helpful to me, as I learn more about the craft every day, and it’s only fair (and enjoyable) to return the favor when I can. So glad you found this one useful, and I hope you’ll stop by often.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the reblog, Brenda. And I’m glad you are enjoying the reader in Word. I’ve used it several times this morning, and so far, my sense of it is, it works pretty much like the FREE version of NaturalReader. The paid version of NR has a few more features, but for most folks, they may not be necessary. So Word is a great, already available, alternative for those of us who use it for our writing, already. 🙂

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        • My close-up vision is so lousy these days, it is often very hard for me to see what I’ve typed with any clarity at all. Hearing the words is a godsend, and works so well! I realized that it’s a great tool, whether you have impaired vision or not, and thought I should share it. And then, I learned about the one in Word, so the post benefited me, too, in addition to any others it may help. Writers are the BEST! 🙂

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  4. I’ve written software like this before. It’s not terribly onerous, but getting the voices to work correctly can be expensive and managing the buffering can be a PITA. It’s nice to see someone making a decent TTS app available, though I still prefer to read my works out loud on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s something to be said for doing both. I definitely hear things on NaturalReader that I miss when I read it myself, because the app doesn’t know what I meant to say, and I do. It just says what’s actually there. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by today!

      Liked by 1 person

        • One plus to using the one in Word is you can make changes as you go. Just stop the narration, correct, and start again. Easy-peasy. Sometimes, hearing the words out loud makes me realize I’d prefer to phrase something differently, even if it isn’t incorrect. I wish I’d been doing this on all of my books, and I definitely plan to continue going forward.

          Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome, Deb. This has changed how I do my own revising and editing, before sending my final product to my “real” editor. It has been a HUGE help to me. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thrilled to learn about this helpful app! And besides just downloading it, I also set up the text to speech in my Word program, which I never knew existed! What a great help that will be in revisions, the part where I read my drafts over and over and over, lol. It will be nice to hear it read back to catch things our eyes miss. Thanks again Marsh. Oh, and I plan on reblogging this, probably next week after your post gets it’s kudos. 🙂 ❤

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  6. I downloaded the free program and tried it. It caught some errors I had missed. I agree it is a great tool for editing. I have Word for Mac 2011. I have followed the instructions, yet can not find the “Speak” option to enable. Does anyone know if my version of Word has the option? Also, is there a significant difference in the upgrade version to justify the cost? I would be using it for U.S. English for blog post and book editing only. Thank you Marcia for the great information.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Chuck! Sorry I just now saw your pending comment! So glad you are checking out Natural Reader. While it will never replace human eyes and a good editor, it can be extremely valuable during revision, before submitting to an editor, and also, for one last run through to be sure nothing has been missed. I hate finding out after I’ve uploaded my books that there are typos that managed to sneak by every eye.

      I’m afraid I can’t answer your questions on the Word “Speak” option, as I never knew about it before I posted this. I followed the instructions and found it on my version, but I’m using a newer one.

      For me, Natural Reader’s free version is enough for now. I tried both, and the biggest difference for my usage purposes was a choice of voices, so when I needed to get it again, I went with the free one. If you use it to do other things, or you don’t like it stopping every so often to ask you to upgrade, then it might be worth the expense. I’m going to do another post soon, comparing the Word Speak option to Natural Reader. I find I’m using both, for different purposes, and will address that. So, hope you’ll stay tuned. And when I do the post, I’ll also ask your questions to see if we can find someone to help with those.

      In the meantime, hope you enjoy NaturalReader. It’s made a HUGE difference to me.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Glad it is proving helpful, Chuck! I think it’s a wonderful addition to my revision & editing tools. It won’t tell me when my sentence structure needs tweaking, or when I’ve begun too many sentences with the same phrase, or when I’ve said something inconsistent with what I said 3 chapters earlier, but my editor does a pretty good job of that. THIS catches missed words better than anything I’ve used, though, and for that alone, I love it. (Those wee words we think we typed, and our brain “reads” for us, even when they aren’t there. Like to, if, the, a, and so on. I may upgrade again one day, but right now, I’m having pretty good success with the free one. The choice of voices is a nice option, though, for sure.

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  8. You prove what I’ve always told my students in composition classes: Read your essay out loud before you turn it in.

    It is a step I should take as a writer before I send my manuscript off to a beta reader. Thank you, Marcia for this wonderful advice and link to a great tool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome, Marian. And through this post, I learned that Word has a reader option, too. I’m now using both, and will be posting a comparison on them soon. But one way or the other, hearing those words aloud makes all the difference in the world. 🙂

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    • Both Natural Reader, and the build in reader in Word, are helpful, Carol. I didn’t know about the one in word until Olga commented on it above. I like using that one as I write. I can stop, highlight a chapter, and listen to it before moving on. When I’m done, I open the whole thing in Natural Reader, because I think it sounds a bit more . . . dare I say it? . . . Natural. 🙂 And the paid version has even more voices and options. So glad you enjoyed learning about it! Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome, Christy. And if you turn on the built-in speech thingie (that’s the technical term!) in Word, you can get an idea of how helpful it is, too. I didn’t know about that until I posted this, and now I use both. SO helpful for pacing, things that don’t sound quite right, missed words, and the like. 🙂

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