Editing Tip by Nancy Connally: Recording and Listening–with an addendum for MAC Users
Nancy Connally, a member of Women Writing the West, gives a few editing tips, including her technique of RECORDING AND LISTENING to help with crafting authentic dialogue and editing. --JGR
During many years of editing, I received some fine tips, such as:
- Read a document backwards to catch typos and misspellings.
- Set a manuscript aside and then return to it with fresh eyes.
- Read a manuscript aloud.
Recently, though, a friend mentioned listening to books on tape during her daily commute - and bingo! That's when the idea hit me.
I bought a small tape recorder and those little-bitty tapes, and I started recording my writing. When I listened to the tapes, I immediately noticed any problems with cadence, or confusion about who was doing or saying what, or just plain difficulty in deciphering a sentence.
I particularly like to hear the dialogue because if there’s one thing that will make or break a fiction book when I read it, it’s dialogue. By listening to what is said, I can be sure that each speaker sounds different and true to character.
Now if I can just figure out how the tape recorder makes my accent so disturbingly pronounced . . .
ADDENDUM AND REFINEMENT FOR MAC USERS:
If you have a Mac computer, the computer can read the story back to you. Some unusual words will trip up the computer, and the expression isn't always the best, but it's a great way to hear cadence, too.
Here's how to set up your MAC for storytelling editing:
- Go to System Preferences.
- Select "Speech."
- Select "Text to Speech."
- Select the "System Voice" you like and the "Speaking Rate" you like.
- Click in the small box beside "Speak selected text when the key is pressed."
- Click on "Set Key" and follow the directions.
- Close the System Preferences window.
Now open the document and highlight what you want to hear spoken. Press the keys you selected as the command, and the computer starts reading the text you selected.
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