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JRMurdock
July 9th, 2004, 07:14 PM
Thank you Funky for your tip on reading your own work out loud to find awkward sentences. I found a new method that I like even better. Read the below paragraph.

Have you even tried editing a book or stories and couldn't see the forest because of the tress? Have you read you own work, found no error because your brian read the story the way you mean it to be? Have you ad your spell checker have no trouble editing your work and you think al is ok? Then someone reads you work and says 'Hey, this is mess up'.

There are a lot of intentional errors in the above paragraph. The interesting thing is myself and all my test readers (about 12) missed many simple errors such as what is in the paragraph. They were random and spotted throughout, but I found them all over the past couple of days with a new and easy to use method.

The microsoft reader (http://www.microsoft.com/reader)

I discovered this and was reading a fellow author's book in .lit format (that'd be you ironchef). I discovered you could set the reader to read to you in an odd computerized voice. What I discovered as I listened to his book (between munches and chews as I ate my lunch) was an error in his text. A very simple one and easy to gleam over if you're reading. The word has was missing the 'h' and was as. This didn't sound right in the sentence and sure enough, I found it.

I stopped listening to the book and set out converting all my short stories and books. I listened to 15 of my short stories and sure enough, every book had several such easy misses in the text. I was over joyed.

The URL I posted is for the main reader (usable in windows only I think) and you can download the free tool to convert any word document (if you can open it in word, you can probably convert it ie. .txt, .doc, .rtf) into a .lit document. Then open that document into the MS reader and hit play. It's that simple.

The nice thing about the reader is it doesn't read what is supposed to be there as I or any other reader may, it reads what is there. I was playing the .lit file and editing the word documents as I went. It's slow (about a page every two minutes), but it'll really help with cleaning up text. I was able to follow along and find other errors such as punctuation.

Try this out and let me know what you think. I do think you'll like it.

ironchef texmex
July 9th, 2004, 07:35 PM
First off, let me begin by pointing out that the only reason that there was an error at all in my text was that I accidentally set it to a .makethissuck text file before emailing it.... uh, erm. :o

A little side note. We can make our computers at the police department speak a word by surrounding the word with quote marks. It's a little game now to set off the most absurd calls in quotations and then send them to your buddies. Let me tell you, you just haven't lived until you've *heard* a computer describe how it was "manhandled".

I'll try this, Maus (apparently I need it) ;) . I think I'll still have to physically look at my work though, and just use this as a secondary check. I'm awful about substituting 'Their' for 'There', 'Sight' for 'Site' and such.

JRMurdock
July 9th, 2004, 07:42 PM
A little side note. We can make our computers at the police department speak a word by surrounding the word with quote marks. It's a little game now to set off the most absurd calls in quotations and then send them to your buddies. Let me tell you, you just haven't lived until you've *heard* a computer describe how it was "manhandled".

I think I'll still have to physically look at my work though, and just use this as a secondary check. I'm awful about substituting 'Their' for 'There', 'Sight' for 'Site' and such.

I've also had fun leaving people voice mails with the computerized voice complaining of errors in the program we support. :)

and I do the same thing. I'll follow along in the word doc as the computer reads it to me. I'll be watching the words and very very slowly trudging along and I'll spot the error as it reads it. I'll correct and move along. It pronounces VERY phonetically so errors like that you'll have to watch as it reads. What this does though is slows you down to 4th grade reading speed. It really forces you to read each word one at a time instead of (as I normally do) read a mach speed and glean over major mistakes (or even minor ones).

If nothing else, it makes a funny story (I converted my cats story from Exercise 6) and makes it even funnier. At least to me it was funny listen to a robot explain how it threw a fish head out at a bunch of cats in an effort to make them go away.

ShellyS
July 9th, 2004, 08:21 PM
Different things work for different people and everyone has their favs. I prefer doing a few things. I read aloud, usually to someone, usually that someone is my collaborator even if she isn't co-writing the WIP with me. I proofread. I'm a good proofreader and I can do a very good job on my own writing if I leave some time between the writing and the proofing. And I'm a rolling reviser. I rewrite/revise/edit/proof as I go, which means that before I start writing a new scene, I go over the last few scenes written, mostly to refresh my memory since I write as I go. And that's when I find most errors.

BTW, I found lots of errors in the initial post on this thread. ;)

Camrick
July 9th, 2004, 08:55 PM
I'm definitely going to check out the reader.

Also, in terms of editing, I think its much better to print out your work and read it off hard copy than to read it on the screen. Don't know why, but I catch more when I do this.

Also, for a line edit, try reading the work backwards, sentence by sentence. I don't mean read it backwards, but read the last sentence first and then so on and so forth. This allows you to read the sentence on its own merits without the rest of the work's influence.

funky_fantasist
July 10th, 2004, 04:46 AM
It comes as part of Mac's OS - select the text you want read aloud - then click on 'Speech'- 'Start speaking' You can mess around and change the default voice in system preferences if you like (although some are just silly! :rolleyes: )

However, it is a bit slow and, given that it cannot add much inflection into the words I am not sure I prefer it to a human reader... Hmm, maybe I'll have another go with it this afternoon...

Maus - whatever works for ya - go for it!
Cheers
Funky
:D

mistri
July 16th, 2004, 12:00 PM
I think it's fairly well known that you generally catch far fewer errors when reading off a computer screen compared to reading off a hard copy. Plus, I enjoy scribbling all over hard copy, whereas it's harder to make notes on the computer version without making the doc look messy.

Getting the computer to read work aloud is a good idea as well, though I don't think I'd have the patience to listen to novel length work that way - I'd have to do it in chapter chunks.

There are also programs (I forget where - sorry!) that tell you how many times you've used each word in your manuscript - it can be really useful if there's anything you unintentionally repeat a lot (I have favourite words I use all the time that would annoy readers).

Holbrook
July 16th, 2004, 12:15 PM
Print it off, stick in the waste paper bin and forget it ;)

JRMurdock
July 16th, 2004, 12:25 PM
Come now Hol. I know your writing is much better than the circular file. You jsut need to write more of it.

Holbrook
July 16th, 2004, 12:55 PM
Come now Hol. I know your writing is much better than the circular file. You jsut need to write more of it.


MORE!

I have one novel of 96,000 words, one of 250,000 words ,about five outlines and half started novels all about 20,000 each... dozens of short stories ranging from 1000 to 5000 words Collab threads/roleplay/solo efforts topping 160,000 words littered round the internet on various forums.

That is what still exists, about twice that much has been deleted and shunted into never, never land...

At the moment I am trying hard to get four major projects out there. One novel(96,000) edited, chapterbreakdown done, submission letter to do... One novel (250,000) one third of the way edited/rewrite... hope to get this one done before I die....;) One Collab story with HE eidted, three chapters polished and ready for submission, the rest coming along.... One with another bunch of writers... editing....

All I do is edit and re-write and write.... Just feels like a mill stone to day... All happening but nothing done if that makes sense... no "ending" no putting it on one side and saying done finished..