Last month I shared my secret to writing great dialogue. This month, I'm going to share my secret to a polished manuscript. This is my prized resource for catching mistakes, plot holes, story flow/pacing, clarity, and the dozen other errors we as authors miss because we're so close to our work.
I'm sure it comes as no surprise when I tell you that every author would be prudent to find a way to HEAR her/his story read aloud. You've heard this advice a thousand times before, right? So have I, and I've heard other authors say they print out their MS and read it aloud so they can hear it. Or they read it aloud while recording their voice so they can replay it. I don't know about you, but that seems so last century to me.
I can't imagine sitting around reading my MS for hours on end hoping to hear mistakes. Surely, it's almost impossible to read and listen so carefully as to pick out errors at the same time. Personally, I don't believe we can effectively catch mistakes this way since we're still too close to what we've written. Then we encounter the problem of wasted hours of reading aloud that we'll never get back.
My solution? My biggest helper--outside of my CP--is my beautiful Kindle Keyboard. I love that baby. All I need to do is email my word doc to my Kindle, turn on Text-to-Speech and I can easily listen while I do the school run or clean the house. When I hear something I wish to change, I pause the Kindle, bookmark the page and make a note of what I need to change. If this happens while I'm driving, I'll make a mental note and write it down as soon as I reach my destination. On occasion, I've been known to pull over to the side of the road and make notes. But I'm sure you guys do that too. :)
I've found that using Kindle to read my story while I listen is the best option for me. I've tried using read aloud in PDF but the voice is far too tinny and computer generated for my taste. It distracts and irritate me, and I end up missing mistakes. Plus I lose the on-the-go editing option that I love so much.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is fool proof. I'm simply saying it's another wonderful editing resource to add to our creative arsenal. For instance, you won't notice homophones, but you'll certainly notice flow and pacing. You'll notice tone and characterization, plot problems or whether you spend too much time in your characters' heads, whether your dialogue sounds natural, and a host of other niggles you might've otherwise overlooked.
The Kindle Keyboard isn't the only Kindle that has the Text-to-Speech function. According to the Text-to-Speech: Enabled link in the Product details section of my books on Amazon, Text-to-Speech is available for Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle (2nd generation), and Kindle DX. That's a huge choice of read aloud choices I never knew existed until lately. I haven't researched it, so I can't say if the other devices also have a read aloud function. If you know of any other reader besides the ones I listed, please tell us about it in the comments section below.
What do you use to help you polish your MS? Do you listen to your WIP via your reading device? Have you any special, trusted and adored methods for polishing your MS? If so, please share, I'd love to hear your secrets.
Do leave a comment in the comment section below. Even if you just want to say "Hi!", I'd be thrilled to know you stopped by.
Until next time, write with clarity and style!
Author/Screenwriter Monique DeVere currently resides in the UK with her amazing hero husband, four beautiful grown-up children, and three incredible granddaughters.
Monique writes Romantic Comedy stories some call Smexy—Smart & Sexy—and others call fluff. Monique makes no apologies for writing fun, emotional feel-good romance! She also writes Christian Suspense with a more serious edge.
Monique loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her by visiting her HERE to learn more about her and check out her other books.