I want to start with a big thank-you to the kind people who went looking for my paypal donate button – that I was carefully not telling anyone about, because, really, it embarrasses me. My webmaster put it there a long time ago, and I’ve always felt guilty about it. I like to sell good stories and earn my living by giving what people see as good value for honest labor. I am a long way toward that wetsuit now. Thank you.
I’ve accidentally discovered yet another way of proof-reading. I’m not very good on the laptop with it’s little touchpad, and while using Word, looking for and failing to find any errors on final read-through of CLOUD-CASTLES, I somehow blundered into having ‘read aloud’ (on the review tab) active. Now, the last time I tried voice-to-text and text-to-voice, was in early years of Dragon, and frankly the monotone voice was a very good cure for insomnia and no help to proof-reading. Besides, I have quite a large vocabulary, and it just couldn’t deal with it.
I will say things have improved beyond recognition. It’s still no voice actor, but you can stay awake. Importantly, it highlights each word as it reads it… this has an odd effect on me, when it doesn’t read the word I have just read (I read far too fast).
You see, it actually reads what is there. It doesn’t read what my mind thinks should be there. I picked up literally hundreds of missing prepositions. ‘a’ and ‘the’ particularly, but loads of the second ‘as’ in ‘as mad as hatter’ too. On reading my brain cheerfully filled in gaps, and ‘as mad hatter’ got read as ‘as mad as’. Likewise with ‘of’ or ‘the’ or the ‘a’ I just left out in the example above. I filled in the blanks with right word. Oh. the right word. I found at least one every three pages – and in action scenes, often quite a few more.
Inverting word order too was still shockingly common. ‘a in hurry’ – my head just fixed it by itself.
Doubling words, because of because of… my brain cheerfully skipped the second as it knew it should not be there.
It didn’t end there, of course. My generous mind did a great job at the letter level too – especially with words that had the right number of letters and the right first and last letter – which were correctly spelled, just the wrong word. Crank and Clank. I knew that one heard the clank of heavy machinery. So I didn’t read ‘crank’ – but that is what I wrote.
The other thing my accommodating mind did for me, was to insert minor pauses – as in commas. Only the text to voice, didn’t. So I read something that made sense. And then hear something that just didn’t.
The other thing I found I picked up was an annoying pattern of repeating words. The reality was that I’d get hooked up on a word or phrase and then use it the next sentence, and then, in reality use them again. Reality says this is not a good thing. I just didn’t pick it up, reading, because I read too fast.
Bits of illogic, and bits where I was not clear on who was speaking or being referred to, also came out of the woodwork. I found one paragraph with three uses of ‘he’ – with the middle one being an entirely different ‘he’ to the first or last. I knew, of course. But hearing the text, it was anything but obvious.
So: it worked for me. It’s worth trying. Humans make these intuitive leaps. We join the dots derived from the context. That’s not always right. Look at how many people decided that Kyle Rittenhouse had killed black protesters – but that was the context they were given. Context can lead the mind very seriously astray. This is a way of removing that from the equation. It just reads what is actually there.
Illustration from Pixabay, by Geralt, free for commercial use.