The Wonders of Microsoft Anna

So I’ve heard off and on for several years now that when you’re editing, it really helps to read your work aloud.  For some reason, I am incredibly shy about hearing my own voice reading my own work.  I have no explanation for this, as I am a performer and love being on stage, but within the confines of my own room, I simply can’t do it.  So, I never did.

Then, I heard about getting your computer to read it to you.  Odd concept, I thought.  Well, yesterday I tried it.  I downloaded a free program that gets this crazy lady called Microsoft Anna to read to me.  (There’s probably a way to do this that’s already on my computer, but I couldn’t figure it out.)

She reads like, well, a computer.  It’s not pretty.  There’s no inflection.  Actually, worse, there’s completely inappropriate inflection.  However, by listening with my eyes closed and not following on the screen, I found four separate places where my brain had simply either added a word it knew should be there, or ignored the extra word that shouldn’t have been.

They were little words: the, to, her, but even though I’d read through the work numerous times, I never caught them.

I am totally sold.  I can’t recommend either reading aloud yourself or getting your computer to do it for you enough.  I had no idea how much I was missing.

2 thoughts on “The Wonders of Microsoft Anna

  1. You're absolutely right. You do hear stuff you can't see. And I know I should use it more. It's easier on short pieces to convince myself. Longer pieces, not so much. I don't know if it's an improvement but Adobe Acrobat will read documents a loud as well. The first time I tried it, I was surprised at how good it sounded. It's not perfect by any stretch, but I expected that really flat, inflectionless recitation. It's worth a try.

  2. I've been doing this with my Kindle – send it the .doc file and have it read it back to me. Even with the robotic voice and non-existant inflection, I hear the repetitive or extra words. Not only that, just seeing it on the Kindle makes it easier to find mistakes. It's working very well! I'll have to look into the acrobat reading.

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