#TechTalk: TextAloud

October 4, 2017

Jenna Kernan Introduces PHS to TextAloud, the one piece of tech that she just cannot live without...

 

Are you an audio learner?  In other words, do you prefer to hear something that you need to learn?

 

I do much better listening for mistakes than reading for them.  This is especially true when I am reading my own work.  It seems that I often read what I intended to write, instead of what is actually on the page.  Finding pesky mistakes like the word ‘for’ instead of ‘of’ or ‘was’ instead of ‘saw’ is difficult for me. It was my inability to see these common mistakes that drove me to look for a program that could read my stories back to me. 

 

Most recently, my read-aloud program found the word ‘rumbled’ instead of my intended ‘rumpled’ bed.  I never would have spotted the b instead of the p in those two sentences.  The program is also good for finding repeat words in a paragraph and listening to the flow of the writing.  Viewing while hearing my stories has vastly improved my ability to make corrections in my manuscripts.  I’m sure it would be of great help to those with visual impairments, dyslexia, second language learners and anyone who would like to hear text while exercising or driving. 

 

This is one program that I absolutely could not do without. 

 

I’ll tell you a secret.  My editor once mentioned to me that I might want to read through my work for mistakes before I send it to her.  I did not have the heart to tell her that I had read it five times before I sent it to her.  But reading over my words did not help me spot the obvious things, like missing words or repeat words or incorrect words.  I knew I had to do something.

 

So what is the program that I’m using?  It’s TextAloud by Nextup.  This text to speech software will read emails, word documents and even PDF files, though I have not tried that one yet.  I’m using it right now to listen to this blog post.

 

You can buy different voices with different accents.  The program comes loaded with the voice of Anna.  Anna, unfortunately is a computer voice.  I found her mechanical flat intonations too distracting and so decided to spend a bit more and buy additional voices.  I was tempted to get Audrey who has a crisp British accent but I, instead, purchased Michael and Crystal.  They both have an American accent.  I often have Crystal read my female protagonist’s POV and Michael take the male’s.  TextAloud also sells voices for different languages.  French and German, for example, if you prefer to have your text read in a language other than English.

 

Sometimes the program says something funny like when it mentioned that my heroine, who was hospitalized, had a four in her arm.  It had read IV as Roman numeral four, which is correct.  It also does not always do great with names.  But that is a problem I can deal with.

 

TextAloud now comes in an App that can be used on a Smartphone.  I have not tried that one yet but it is on my list.  It can be used on iOS and Windows so you are good for your PC or your Mac.

 

Where do you get yours?  Click here.

 

Jenna's latest collection, Western Christmas Brides, is out now.  For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

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