September 20th, 2010

Egyptian hieroglyphics

Reading with your ears

I just finished listening to my Kindle read one of my own books to me. As I have posted before, the Kindle's robot voice has its limitations, but it also has its strengths. For one thing, it never gets bored or tired. For another, it reads exactly what it finds on the page (except for mispronouncing selected words, as mentioned before).

Now, keep in mind this was a book I had already “edited.” I was happy with the story, the dialog, the pacing, etc. And to get to that point, I must have read the m.s., on the screen and on paper, at least a dozen times. But somehow, what my eye sees and what my brain understands are two different things. I could read a sentence and think it sounded fine, but when my Kindle read the same sentence, I noticed right away that I had left out a word, or put in the wrong word. The smaller the word, the easier it was to not notice it was wrong or not there at all. My eye sees “in,” but my brain makes it into “is” because that's what needs to be there for the sentence to make sense. Likewise, when a small word is AWOL, like “at" or “of,” my brain just fills it in when I read with my eyes. But somehow my brain catches on as soon as it hears the sentence read aloud.

In addition, certain word pairs are the bane of my writing existence. I always have to check if I mean breath or breathe, choose or chose, lose or loose. But when I hear that my main character is trying to catch his breathe, it stands out right away.

I know there is software that will do this on your PC or Mac, but quite frankly, I don't want to sit and listen at a PC for hours at a stretch. It's not as comfortable as sitting in a recliner or on the sofa, which I can do with the Kindle just fine. Of course, that does mean I need to translate all my Kindle annotations into corrections in the Word file on my laptop, but, as Joe E. Brown says at the end of Some Like It Hot, nobody is perfect.

Now if you'll excuse me I have some corrections to make.

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