For the writers who read my blog, I’d like to pass along this recommendation. In the mid-1990’s I started using a software called Monologue that read my manuscripts aloud to me. The last version came out in 1997, I believe. I guess the company went out of business, although you can sometimes find copies of the software on the Internet. Anyway, somewhere along the way with new computers, I lost my Monologue and have missed it a great deal. But now I have found Natural Reader, so I am once again a happy camper. There is a free version which I have on my laptop, but I bought the Professional Version for my desktop because it integrates with Word and Outlook, etc.
The beauty of this software (and Monologue before it) is that it reads my manuscript back to me and I fix things I might have missed if only using my eyes. That’s because I know the story so well that my eyes often skim over mistakes since I know what I meant to say. I highlight a chapter at a time (my chapters tend to be shorter, especially in novellas), and with the hard copy version in front of me and red pen in hand, I have the computer start reading. I circle errors as I catch them. When the chapter is done, I go back and make the changes on the hard copy, then enter them into the electronic document.
The voices in Natural Reader Professional are better, but the free version worked fine, too. There are some quirks in the reading software, i.e. "his co-workers" was read to me as "his company workers." If I write "Tell James I want…" it will read it as "Tell James the First want…" Words that can be pronounced two ways such as "read" aren’t always pronounced the correct way in context. But once I got used to these quirks, they stopped causing me to stumble as I proofed. (These quirks were in Monologue and are also in Natural Reader.)
I know that using Monologue before and using Natural Reader now helped/helps me turn in better, cleaner manuscripts. I highly recommend it to any novelist (both aspiring and published).
Happy writing and listening!