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Reading your work aloud helps catch problems

When editing your work, you can be so familiar with it your eye doesn’t catch missing words, extra words, wrong words (filed instead of filled), missing punctuation (periods and question marks) and many other mistakes. It helps to read your work aloud to yourself. Many of these things become apparent. Still, your brain can insert or delete things even when you read aloud. Here’s a way to help catch problems.

In Microsoft Word 365, for manuscripts, and Final Draft, for screenplays, you can have the program read your text aloud with a variety of voices. Errors jump out. You hear that missing, extra and wrong word. You hear missing punctuation when two sentences run together. When you listed, you’ll get a sense of pacing and discover words or phrases you repeat. This will help you deliver clean manuscripts and screenplays for movies and television to agents, publishers, producers or insure polished books when you publish yourself, though if you are self-publishing you should always hire a professional editor because the final product needs a human touch, which artificial intelligence can’t provide..

For Word 365, select Review on the menu, then Read Aloud. The program will begin reading aloud from the point of the cursor. It will also display a mini-toolbar to the right hand side. This has a play button, >, a stop button, [], a button to go to the beginning of a line a line, <<, a button to go to the next paragraph, >>, and a button with the icon of a gear over a speaker to adjust the settings.

When you click the settings icon, you can adjust the speed of the voice and the kind of voice you want in a drop-down box. You may see only Male and Female for choices. These are what I see in the Administrator account. On my own account I see three selections, David Microsoft which is a monotone male voice, Zira Microsoft which is a female voice with inflection and Mark Microsoft which is a male voice with inflection. I’m not certain why I see three choices for my own account and only two generic ones for the Administrator.

For Final Draft, you have more setting options. Click Tools on the menu. Under the Speech Control Frame you will see a play button, >, a stop button, [], an Assign Voices button, ))), a fast forward button, >>, that moves forward to the next block (scene, action, dialogue), and a Rewind button, <<, that moves back a block.

The Assign Voices button shows a dialog box with three tabs. The first, Characters, allows you to assign each character one of ten unique voices; Man 1, Man 2, Woman 1, Woman 2, Boy 1, Boy 2, Girl 1, Girl 2, Old Man and Old woman. Initially, these will all sound in the same, a monotone male voice. These can be adjusted on the Third tab, Actors. Here, you can assign a unique male of female voice to each actor by selecting the gender from the drop-down box. You can then adjust the pitch and speed. There is a Preview button to hear what it sounds like and make further adjustments. I see two choices, Microsoft David (male voice) and Microsoft Zira (female voice). You may see other choices or a generic male or female. Because you can adjust pitch and speed, you can crate unique types of any gender.

The second tab, Narrator, allows you to assign a unique voice to the narrator who reads the scenes, action and dialogue. Again, there is a preview button.

Other writing program may have similar features.

You will find these tools a great asset to make your work shine.


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