You know those optical illusion emails that your mother-in-law won’t stop forwarding to you? With weirdly colored, too-big fonts and plenty of white space so you get carpal tunnel while scrolling down to see the punchline?
You scroll and scroll, then stare and stare. You don’t get it. You curse yourself for not procrastinating better. Then your office mate or wife or whoever saunters up, looks at the screen for all of two seconds, and points out the double use of the word “the”.
I’m always shocked at how our minds fill in information according to expectations. Revision blindness on first pages and cover letters is particularly mortifying. Cue my recent love affair with text-to-speech programs.
I can’t believe I’ve never used this software before, and I suspect that it exists by default on most computers for accessibility reasons. True to form, Scrivener makes it super easy: Just go to the Edit menu, and scroll down to Speech. Before I found this option, I would compile my document to a plain text file (Under Compilation Options > Transformations > Select Convert to plain text: Paragraph spacing and indents), open in TextEdit, and select Speech from the Edit menu. If you have a long document and want the ability to pause and rewind, you can even convert text to a spoken track in iTunes. I’ve never tried this myself, but the technique is explained in detail here.
Sorry to be so Mac centric, but I’m sure there’s a simple way to do this on PCs as well!
The first time I ran Speech on my novel opening–an opening that’s been pored over by myself and countless crit partners and friends–I heard transposed words. A mistake that my brain naturally fixes when reading, and one that spell check would never pick up on.
I am a text-to-speech convert.