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Writing Process & Programs > Using Text To Speech when revising

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message 1: by Regina (last edited May 15, 2018 03:30PM) (new)

Regina Modesta | 16 comments Does anyone else like to have chapters of their writing read back to them to help with identifying bad sentences and missing words? I've been finding it helps a lot, but I still have Word 2003 or 07, so it doesn't have the TTS feature. I've been using sites that offer the service for free but they're usually quite limited (like you can only do a paragraph at a time - quite tedious when you want to hear the whole chapter to see how the pacing is), or the robot is SO painfully unnatural there's no point. I mean, I don't need to feel like there's a real British lady in my living room, but it would be nice if it was a little more fluid than Max Headroom when he gets all glitchy.

So I guess I have two questions:

1) Does anyone know of a website with free or extremely cheap TTS that sounds reasonably okay and let's you paste in more than a couple paragraphs at a time.

2) Does anyone use the TTS for this purpose on Microsoft 2016? I'm considering splurging on the upgrade just to get this feature, but I want to know that it works well.

Sorry for this very tedious and specific question. Btw, if you haven't used TTS to help you with editing/revising, or even just to get you in the zone when you can't seem to concentrate, I recommend giving it a try :)


message 2: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments Acrobat reader is free and will read a whole book to you. What I do is save a copy as PDF, start the TTS (under the VIEW menu) and have the MSWord doc open as I follow along.

I pause it if I need to in any spot that has trouble.

Love it.


message 3: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (last edited May 15, 2018 04:24PM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4358 comments Mod
Martin wrote: "Acrobat reader is free and will read a whole book to you."

Thanks Martin. I may need to do this. My manuscript is 300K words* and I'm on the Xteenth edit. I feel like it's getting close to being ready. I think this might be the final step to be sure.

*With such a long sucker to work with, I know I'm likely missing dozens of rogue typos.


message 4: by Regina (new)

Regina Modesta | 16 comments Thanks Martin. Giving that a try tonight!


message 5: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 915 comments I used Natural Reader up until I got the newest Word. It has decent voices and wasn't all that expensive when I got it. I still use it on occasion but I have the TTS in MS Word.

Because I use MS Office components a lot, I pay a yearly fee for the MS Office so I do have the TTS for Word now. I still only do a chapter at a time. What I discovered is how 'renting' all the MS Office is great since I get the latest edition and it is actually cheaper than paying for the upgrade when it comes out as that is included in your yearly fee. You also have access to all this help if needed in how to use the different components. The only one I don't use is Outlook as I like gmail much better since I travel a lot.


message 6: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) I use the text to speech function on my Kindle. I've been touting this method for years. Not only will you see the typos, but the robotic voice will read all punctuation literally so you'll notice incorrect and missing items there as well.


message 7: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Skilton | 17 comments I've been using Natural Reader, too. But there is also a built-in function in Scrivener. I might try Christina's method, though.


message 8: by Regina (last edited May 20, 2018 09:14AM) (new)

Regina Modesta | 16 comments Tried Acrobat and it works fairly well but it's hard to pause (unless there's a shortcut I haven't found) and the voice isn't the greatest. But it definitely beats shelling out money for an Office upgrade I don't otherwise need. Natural Reader sounds great on the trial version but is not my personal definition of cheap. Doing the Microsoft Office subscription appears to be much cheaper. I don't have an actual kindle, but if it'll read to you in the app, I'm going to see how that sounds. Will have to check out the Scrivener option as well. Hope this is a helpful update for anyone who reads this thread and, like me, has a budget of near zero :) Thanks to all for the suggestions!!


message 9: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (psramsey) | 33 comments You people are geniuses!! I never even considered editing this way!!

GENIUSES!


message 10: by Regina (new)

Regina Modesta | 16 comments LOL it will change your life!!!! Not just editing for typos, but when revising. Great way to find clunky sentences, poor transitions, lame dialogue, etc, especially if the voice is decent. Like you can hear it fresh instead of your eyes glazing over because you've read it so many times. Have fun!! :)


message 11: by John (new)

John Saomes | 15 comments I use the speech function on an Apple Mac. You can change the voice and speed to suit your needs. It is a wonderful way of 'seeing' your manuscript in a whole different light.


message 12: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Griffin (dangriffin) | 1 comments Is the voice reading not too clunky? I really like the idea of this and tend to read out loud when editing my own stuff. I like the idea of having a third party read out loud because (as you said) it makes it more 'fresh' - but I worry it will be harder to grasp clunky sentence structure if the bot is just reading it all monotone!


message 13: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 915 comments Even though text to speech is great and i use it a lot, if you want the best way to edit for typis, clu ky sentenses, wording, etc. Print the book double spaced, narrow magins and read it aloud. You have to pay attention and you catch a lot of issues thus way. My mentor said to stand with your hands on the table, a pen nearby. Stop, make your corrections, preferably in color. Read the correction aloud and continue. I can't stand bent over for that long with being tall and having a bad back. I will say it does work and if younpkan on doing an audio book with you recoeding it, it's great practice. For TTS is a great way to carch some issues, but you reading it is a whole lot better.


message 14: by John (new)

John Saomes | 15 comments DSM wrote: "Is the voice reading not too clunky? I really like the idea of this and tend to read out loud when editing my own stuff. I like the idea of having a third party read out loud because (as you said) ..."

I don't want to sound like a promoter, but the quality of the built-in speech function on an Apple Mac is very impressive. Of course there are some quirks, especially with creative character names.


message 15: by K.C. (new)

K.C. Knouse (kcknouse) | 49 comments Regina wrote: "Does anyone else like to have chapters of their writing read back to them to help with identifying bad sentences and missing words? I've been finding it helps a lot, but I still have Word 2003 or 0..."

I found a site called ttsreader that is free. You upload a text or pdf file, and it will read it. You have a choice of several voices in English. The British female sounded most natural to me. Just for fun, I tried German, French, Italian, and Spanish readers. It is kind of cool to have my work read with a foreign accent although some of the words when pronounced in a foreign accent are nearly unintelligible.


message 16: by Regina (new)

Regina Modesta | 16 comments I think the process is different for everyone. Maybe not everyone can identify clunky sentences from listening to a bot, but if the bot pauses appropriately when it encounters different punctuation and doesn't screw up homophones and things like that, I find that sentences with poor pacing or rhythm stand out to me. Perhaps that won't happen for all, just as standing over a table with a colored pen may or may not work for all, but I think all of these suggestions are great for anyone who hasn't tried them and is looking for new strategies.


message 17: by S.A. (new)

S.A. Battaglia (sabattaglia) | 5 comments I'd never even considered this. I can see the benefit for proofing/editing. Thank you for sharing!


message 18: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 731 comments Mod
I will admit that I would be scared of text-to-speech. Mostly because I don't know how I'd have to "teach" it to pronounce character names that don't follow English pronunciation.


message 19: by Zana (new)

Zana Hart (zanahart) | 13 comments Tomas, if you don't already, try reading your writing out loud yourself. I do that a lot and find it very useful. Will try text-to-speech myself soon!


message 20: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 915 comments Tomas, if you use unusual names. do as Zana recommended, reading it aloud. Not only do you find the really out of wack wording, but you find the missed words and incomplete sentences. It is the cheapest and best way to proof a book. More people should do it before publishing.


message 21: by Regina (new)

Regina Modesta | 16 comments Or if you know someone kind enough, have them read it to you. Personally I can't concentrate when I hear my own voice. I need to hear it from someone else, plus I do the majority of my work at the library where I need to use headphones for anything noisy, hence my starting this thread about TTS in the first place. We're all different. There's always a way that works once you find it!


message 22: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 731 comments Mod
Unfortunately, I am the only one in my family who can speak, read or let alone write in English, so asking them for reading it ould would not work...

I think that maybe the fact I have no clue how text-to-speech stuff works is why I am reluctant to it. While the book is in English, there are names that have Latin or Greek influence and it would most likely end up worse if I tried to use English spelling on them (I guess that's why many fantasy authors include a pronunciation list at the back of their book).


message 23: by Zana (new)

Zana Hart (zanahart) | 13 comments So I say do it yourself OR maybe find another writer here on Goodreads to take a look... I don't know where that would be, but I am guessing that they are here someplace!


message 24: by Melody (new)

Melody Ruth (melodyruth) | 2 comments I hate to sound redundant, but I never thought of this before and now I'm excited to try it for my next book. If ever there is a section I'm unsure about I read it out loud to myself! Sounds so much easier, thanks!


message 25: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 731 comments Mod
Zana wrote: "So I say do it yourself OR maybe find another writer here on Goodreads to take a look... I don't know where that would be, but I am guessing that they are here someplace!"
I want to have beta version prepared in a month, hoping that I'll find someone willing to point out some things.


message 26: by Zana (new)

Zana Hart (zanahart) | 13 comments Can anyone point Tomas to a place here in Goodreads that he might ask for a writer whose native tongue is English to take a look? I'd offer to do it myself but I'm swamped.


message 27: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments Beta Reader Group. I have several GR friends who are in it.


message 28: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments Or just scroll down to the Writer Workshop here and ask for a Beta reader.


message 29: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 731 comments Mod
Thank you both for trying to help. I was looking at the beta reader group already but first, I need to get my work closer to the beta stage. I'll need to do one more edit pass, which will need to wait for when my exams are done.


message 30: by Regina (last edited Jun 03, 2018 10:30AM) (new)

Regina Modesta | 16 comments I'm sure there are threads on here that can help you with finding beta readers and critique partners. I've personally found several critique partners here on GR and also on Twitter. We exchange work and help each other mostly with content. The text to speech thing is by no means a substitute for a critique partner or beta reader. TTS only helps with editing, not reactions to your plot or character development, which no writer can do without. Nor can you do a final proofread with TTS. Some things you just need humans for. TTS just helps you experience your own writing in a fresh way, for whatever that's worth to you.

Going back to TTS, though, I'm finding the acrobat voice to be too choppy and unnatural to be of much use, at least for me. But I did find a free site where the voice is decent, but you can only paste in a few paragraphs at a time. Still, I find it helpful when I just want certain chunks read aloud. It doesn't always pronounce names right, but at least it reacts to punctuation appropriately and is fairly smooth. I don't have the link on this device but I'll share it later in case anyone finds it useful.


message 31: by H. (new)

H. Glogau-Morgan (ddraigswife) | 8 comments These are all excellent! I used to use Dragon Naturally Speaking for it, as I use it for writing in general, but I'm out of licenses and don't have it installed on my new laptop. Right now, the funds are not available to purchase even the home edition of the latest version.


message 32: by Regina (new)

Regina Modesta | 16 comments H. wrote: "These are all excellent! I used to use Dragon Naturally Speaking for it, as I use it for writing in general, but I'm out of licenses and don't have it installed on my new laptop. Right now, the fun..."

The $$$ is always the hardest part for us starving writers!


message 33: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Johnston (katherinejohnstonbooks) | 9 comments Voice Dream is an inexpensive reading app,...I use on my phone to edit manuscripts on the go,... mostly for dialogue and transition flow. It helped my productivity immensely! For grammar edits you really need to listen and look at the text, or at least I do. Listening to your manuscript is an invaluable editing tool,...our eye can skim over an error, but our hearing will catch everything from spelling mistakes to verb-subject disagreements! Hope you can find what works for you! 😀


message 34: by Steven (new)

Steven Nedeau | 28 comments Katherine wrote: "Voice Dream is an inexpensive reading app,...I use on my phone to edit manuscripts on the go,... mostly for dialogue and transition flow. It helped my productivity immensely! For grammar edits you ..."

I love the 'voice dream' app. I used it to edit my book in the back seat of a pickup truck, reading the book at the same time. It forced me to slow down my reading, and the connection between seeing the words and hearing the words, exposed so many errors I had missed just reading on my own.


message 35: by Lori-Ann (new)

Lori-Ann Claude | 76 comments Regina wrote: "2) Does anyone use the TTS for this purpose on Microsoft 2016? I'm considering splurging on the upgrade just to get this feature, but I want to know that it works well...."

I can't find where but someone posted about using Word's TTS for one wave of editing (or maybe it's a blog I got off Twitter). The poster said the voice wasn't that annoying.

For the heck of it, I tried it out. It's a male voice and yes, sounds a little robotic but the words are clear and not really annoying for the purpose of editing. I'd be afraid if it was too "pleasing" that I would forget why the book is being read out loud. For the purpose of editing/revising, I will definitely use this on the next book.

I'm lucky, I have Office 2016 through a purchase program at work (very cheap). I actually have a more recent version for my personal laptop than the version we have at work. But if you can find something else that saves you having to upgrade Word, maybe try that first.


message 36: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 915 comments I posted earlier that the TTS for word is decent. The voice is less robotic than some of the ones I've tested. I use it a lot to get a feel for the flow and to catch errors. If you rent Microsoft office by the year, you get all the newest upgrades and with mine, I can have it on five devices or share with the family. It is $99 a year and if you figure in how often they revamp the software, you save in the long run, especially if you use it on multiple devices like I do.

The best way to catch the most of the errors in your writing is for you to read the manuscript aloud...slowly. It's amazing how it sounds when you are actively reading it aloud. You wonder what child wrote parts of it and how you missed that sentence and catch the redundancies you missed while listening to it.


message 37: by Lori-Ann (new)

Lori-Ann Claude | 76 comments I must say, using TTS for editing is great. Good rest for the eyes too. I've been editing using TTS for the past 3 days. It is "slower" than reading back but that's actually a good thing. Even on the 20th read, you can get pulled into a story and forget you're reading for editing reasons.

Doing TTS is probably worth 3-4 read through.

I'm a bit surprised because I'm more a visual person but maybe that's what makes this a good way to edit.


message 38: by John (new)

John Byron (johnbyron) | 7 comments Voice dream, hands down. I purchased a couple of the higher end voices, and it works very nicely.


message 39: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
Cold unfeeling and unsexy robot voice is my favourite way to edit!


message 40: by Lori-Ann (new)

Lori-Ann Claude | 76 comments I've been at it just under a week and I find I'm a lot more objective about "bad" sentences when it comes out of my laptop's speaker then when I see them on the page.

So far, every scene of the 11 chapters I've reviewed, I cut the word count down by an average of about 25-30 words, fixed punctuation, caught missing words.

Definitely, TTS for reviewing is awesome and the more boring the voice the better.


message 41: by James (last edited Jan 27, 2019 12:21PM) (new)

James Carroll | 2 comments I'm very happy with Natural Reader software and it's relatively inexpensive ($100+).

It's been very valuable to hear my words through other voices. And it's also been useful to just have entire chapters playing on the stereo while puttering around the house. It may sound peculiar, but I often catch problems in phrasing while listening about the house that I might have overlooked while editing at the computer.

Natural Reader (naturalreaders dotcom) also uses a variety of very sophisticated voices (differing ages as well as gender) created by another company, Acapela Group.


message 42: by Lynn (new)

Lynn | 32 comments This sounds interesting. I usually read my stories/chapters/blogs out loud - but this might be better


message 43: by David (new)

David Humphrey | 16 comments Thanks for this people. I have used my Mac's built in TTS to read back chapters in TextEdit as I proof. I didn't know about NaturalReader or VoiceDream so thank you for the suggestions. I didn't know other writers did this so I feel less weird now : )


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