Rewriting: Hearing Your Work Really Helps

SpeakAt some point in the rewrite process, my friend Kris Nitz reads her work aloud.  Actually hearing it helps her fine tune words and phrases.

I’ve tried to do this and it works great for about half a page.  As I read, I get quieter and quieter.  Before you know it, I’m mumbling and then I’m not speaking aloud at all.

Fortunately, if you use Word, you can install a function called Speak on your Quick Access Toolbar.  Just follow these steps.

  1. In Word, the default location for the Quick Access Toolbar is the upper left corner of the screen.  On the far right of this Toolbar is a black arrow pointing down. Hover the mouse over this arrow and it says “Customize Quick Access Toolbar.”  Click on this arrow.
  2. This opens a drop down menu titled Customize Quick Access Toolbar.  Mouse down to More Commands and select this option.
  3. This opens the Word Options menu.  In the dialogue box, Choose Commands From, Popular Commands will be selected.  In this dialogue box, scroll down to All Commands and select.
  4. Scroll down through the menu list until you find Speak. Select and then click the “Add >>” button.  Speak will now appear in the Customize Quick Access Toolbar  on the right hand side of this menu box.
  5. At the bottom right of this menu box, click OK which will save this option and close the menu box.

Once you have installed Speak, all you need to do is select the text that you want the program to read and then click the Speak icon on your Toolbar.

I can’t say that I’m in love with the mechanical sounding computerized voice, but I used this feature to review a 70 page workbook.  Where my eyes alone will scan a page and skip over duplicate words and one word typed instead of another (dead vs head), Speak forces me to listen to each and every word. In addition to spotting mistakes, it also helps me find tune the sound of my text.

The result is a piece that is much more pleasing to the ear — a definite plus for a picture book but beneficial to anything you write, including Kris’s young adult novels.


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