Do you ever listen to your own work?

I’ll admit that it wouldn’t have ever occurred to me to do so, except I’m a techno-maven and constitutionally incapable of not messing with stuff once I own it.  I’m good at it, it’s how I make my living–machines fear and obey me.

So when I got my new Kindle (Kindle Fire HD, 8.9″ screen–the single sexiest piece of hardware I have owned to date) I had to try out all the bells and whistles.  It has a 3/16″ headphone jack, and I use a 3/16″ audio to cassette adapter to run my MP3 player through my car stereo.  So I figured, let’s see what my Kindle sounds like through the car speakers:

Yeah, just groove on the geekiness!

Yeah, just groove on the geekiness!

Now, I don’t have any music downloaded onto my Kindle, since one of the first apps I installed was Pandora, but Pandora needs a wireless connection.

So instead I thought I’d try out the Text-to-Speech, and I figured, what the heck, I’ll see how Catskinner’s Book sounds.

It was an interesting experiment.  The reader isn’t as clumsy as on earlier generations–you still wouldn’t mistake it for a human reading it, but it doesn’t sound like a broken robot from Star Trek, either.

Now, one thing is that it speaks in a feminine voice, and I haven’t yet figured out how to change that (if, in fact, it can be changed).  So that’s kind of disconcerting with a novel written in first person with a male protagonist.

What I found, though, is that it really helps with the flow of the language.  Because the program has no comprehension, it doesn’t phrase the text to match the content the way a human reader would.  Instead it just recites the words in the order they are written.

I could hear spots where the language felt awkward  in ways that I couldn’t ever see by reading over my own work, since I know how it’s supposed to sound.

I don’t think I’m going to rewrite any of Catskinner’s Book in response to what I’ve heard, I’ll just wince and chalk it up to a first effort.  But I think I’ll use it to proof Cannibal Hearts when I get to that point–I use Calibre to convert my files to .mobi so I can see the book on the Kindle screen prior to uploading it to Amazon, I think I’ll use that to listen to it as well.

So if you’ve got a book on Kindle, and your Kindle has text to speech, try listening to the machine read your own words, just to see how it sounds.  It might surprise you.


Define “vanity”

Okay, I’ll admit that getting a mini HDMI to HDMI cable so that I can read my book on my big TV is just plain ego.  But playing flash games on the big screen is kind of a kick.

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in On Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Do you ever listen to your own work?

  1. fortyoneteen says:

    I am a little (lot) gealous… machines laugh at me!

    • MishaBurnett says:

      I actually have an “Abby Normal” brain. Pretty much everybody scores higher in some areas than others on an IQ test. I don’t. I score basically the same across the board, I’m as good at verbal as I am at math and the same at spacial reasoning and so on. My old therapist once described me as “pathologically well-rounded.”

      • fortyoneteen says:

        OK, got you now. And of course am even more gealous, being someone stuck firmly in the right brain. That means you have a strong corpus callosum (love that word, but not quite as much as I’m loving “pathologically well-rounded”). There’s a famous autistic man (forget his name, that’s on the left side 😉 ) that has no corpus callosum and he actually reads two pages of a book at once! Both sides of his mind work independently.

  2. I’d never thought of having my work read to me — I like it!

    • MishaBurnett says:

      One thing that I’ve also noticed is that it makes doubled words and misplaced words really stick out. Like I say, I started it more or less by accident, but I think it’s my new favorite editing tool.

  3. Pingback: Guest Post: Misha Shares Robot Wisdoms | rarasaur

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