1. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Listen to your novel

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Catrin Lewis, Jul 17, 2017.

    This has been said around here before, but I've learned firsthand it's worth saying again: Listen to your novel.

    Before you send your precious baby off to an agent, or before you hit Publish on Amazon, copy and paste your opus onto something like ttsreader.com and let that computer-generated voice have at it. Let it flow over you, without looking at the text, preferably while you're doing something else.

    It's amazing what you'll notice about words you overuse. You'll be made aware of whole chapters where the story just draaaaggggggs. You'll be disturbed--- in a very healthy way--- by the padding in your dialogue. It'll reveal to you where your sentences are awkward and convoluted, and catch the editorial ghosts. And of course, that little voice will mercilessly serve up the misspellings and bad grammar. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

    When I hear something awful, I stop the read-back, bring up the text file window, and correct the problem.

    It's not foolproof. Sometimes the voice will mispronounce words you have right. It won't tell you if you've misused a homophone. It never can figure out the difference between past tense and present tense "read" (red/reed). But altogether, the exercise has been valuable.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  2. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    It's funny you mention this... I'm having a voice actor perform the first two chapters, the only chapters I've edited to respectability, for the concerns you mention. I am writing with an audiobook in mind, so that helps. The audition performance of the first chapter was amazing, so for that I'm relieved. What I wrote, exposition and dialogue work as I'd hoped, in fact it jumps off the page!.. it's the second chapter I've yet to get back from her that has me worried. It's a 5,000+ word chapter, almost entirely a conversation between a 12 year old girl and a courtesan. It took me over a month to edit! I pulled out all the stops and made it as vivid and lively as I know how, but we'll see if it needs trimming down.:)
     
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  3. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I would recommend using a computer to synthesize text than to hire a voice actor to do it for you. You read what you you think you are reading, not what you actually read. Did you notice the "you you" in the previous sentence? A voice actor may not have noticed that and read what you meant to write, where a computer is stupid and will only do exactly what you tell it.

    I also like to use both a male and female voice when I use a TTS service. I tend to notice different things with different speakers, I'm not sure why.
     
  4. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    ...

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    I tried it out with a short, just to see. After the first sentence it broke. :D
    Perhaps there is more than one text to speech website, otherwise I don't
    think I could listen to my work.
     
  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    Yesss! This is advice every writer should hear (so to speak).

    I use this one: http://www.fromtexttospeech.com/ It's free, and you can save the output as an MP3 and listen to it in your own time. The voices are very robotic but, as @newjerseyrunner says, that's what helps you hear the repetition and typos and awkward phrasing.
     
  7. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    Thanks Tenderiser for the link and to Catrin Lewis for putting the idea in my head. It's one of the best I've heard in a long time to see if my writing flows.
     
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  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    This one reads better than the other one did. Thanks for sharing. :)
     
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  9. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Senior Member

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    I think using my own voice would be better though. I do have some experience with recording audio, and I've noticed that when I read out loud I analyze it that much more. The slightest awkwardness to the words will grate on my ears like nails and chalkboard. It sometimes stops me completely and I'd probably have to go back and edit immediately. It's a good idea though, hearing your audio brings a different perspective entirely.
     
  10. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I tried that with the second part of my novel, where most of the action is from my male main character's point of view. And in principle I think you're right. But the only male American English voice in TTSReader is "Microsoft Dave," and "his" rendition is so clunky and wooden that I got used to words being mangled and my own typos got lost in the wreck.

    I think some fluency in the computer voice is good. It makes your mistakes more noticeable.

    @Tenderiser, I'll try your recommendation, too.
     
  11. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Great advice, Catrin. I always read my ms aloud at least once, and I find that is helpful, but I think that what @newjerseyrunner says about selective reading is true. I will definitely try this with my WIP. Do you load in the entire ms, or do you load it a chapter at a time?
     
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  12. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I can see two different kinds of "editing" being helped by this - if I were looking at substantive edits and wanted to be sure my pacing, characterization, imagery etc. was working, I'd want a human reader, I think. (Although I don't listen well, so I probably wouldn't find it useful, personally. But I can see how someone else would). But for the really nitty-gritty stuff, the proof reading edit, I think the computerized voice would be best. It would sort of de-emotionalize the story and really focus in on what's actually on the page.
     
  13. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    I think I'm going to add this to my process. I will still read out my draft out loud just to get my voice in there, but after I'm done with my own reading out loud, I'll plug that in on the TTS program.
     
  14. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    My opus is in four parts, and I'm loading it in a part at a time.
     
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  15. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    Yeah, I only use it for copy editing. The voice is so unnatural that I'm too distracted by the words to really take in the story - which is why it works so well for identifying typos/repetitions.
     
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  16. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Mine is in chapters, not parts, but I'll break it down nonetheless.
     
  17. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    I did not!
    Repeated words, missing words and the right words but out of place are the hardest, in my opinion.
     
  18. Odile_Blud

    Odile_Blud Active Member

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    Say, thanks for this! It's pretty cool.

    I like the "Mark" voice. I've got a lot of young, male characters and the "Mark" voice has that young man sounds to it.

    And also, is it just me? Or does this thing seem to recognize when there's dialogue? Maybe it senses quotation marks or something.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  19. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Mac users can use the "Dicater" software:

    http://nosrac.github.io/Dictater/

    It's so much better than the built-in text to speech on the Mac. It uses the same voices, but unlike the built-in feature you can pause, resume, fast forward and rewind it. So if you get to something you need to edit, you can pause the reading, make your changes, then resume the reading.

    I've been using it for my Masters thesis and it definitely helps to identify things you might have missed in the editing. I've just checked and it works in Scrivener, so I'm going to have it read some bits of my novel to me!
     
  20. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm sorry, I know this is juvenile, but having my novel dictated to me by my Mac made me laugh out loud when it read an expletive. It just sounded so funny in its robotic voice, and the intonation it used was hilarious. I've attached a clip :D

    (MP4 audio inside a zip file)
     

    Attached Files:

  21. Anna100

    Anna100 Active Member

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    I did this recently (Taking Tenderiser's suggestion of fromtexttospeech) and it's a really different experience listening to your text. In my ears it sounds better than when I'm reading it in my mind.
    @Odile_Blud I was surprised when there were questions/dialogue. I think it knows. :p
     
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  22. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    I see you're of an age that you may still be attending university... if so, visit the drama department, if your school as such, and see if an aspiring actor or actress would be interested in recording a narration of one of the chapters of your WIP. Treat them to lunch in return, and you'll have an accurate representation of how your prose comes off.
    I've worked in the theatre so I still have connections, and hit up a friend of a friend to do the voice performance of two chapters of the story I'm writing... it blew me away! It also highlighted some things I need to work on.
     
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  23. Anna100

    Anna100 Active Member

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    I could have, but I graduated arts college/university three years ago. :p But it's probably really interesting to do.
     
  24. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    Thank you for the tip, folks. It really works. I’m finding this very helpful with proofreading, especially with typos and missing words.

    The robotic voice is very annoying and I don’t use it to do “creative” editing, but I’ve caught missing words that I don’t think I’d ever notice on my own. The robotic voice mispronounces many words, so I don’t listen to it while doing other things. On the contrary, I sit at the computer listening very attentively and I don’t look at the manuscript unless I hear something strange. It might be a typo but most times it’s a glitch in the robotic voice. Still, it pays off.

    This was very, very helpful. Thank you, and I recommend it to everyone at the proofreading stage.
     
  25. Writeorflight

    Writeorflight Member

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    I just did this with a random page of my first draft, and I literally couldn't finish it, that's how bad it was. I'm actually really happy though, because this will help me so much in the editing process! Thanks for sharing!! Also, if you guys are interested, you can get some really nice sounding voices on naturalreaders.com, for relatively cheap. The best sounding voices do cost $19.00 for one month, but you could probably get through a full manuscript in that time, and the voices sound pretty realistic, so I'd say it's completely worth the investment.
     

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