Thursday, September 18, 2014

What are you REALLY trying to say? (Guest post by Sherri Wilson Johnson!)

Krista here! I'm so excited to host fellow indie-author Sherri Wilson Johnson today!! We've known each other a while know but rubbed elbows again in an indie-author loop we're on together (I was posting massive amounts of questions in preparation for the release of A Side of Faith... I was--am--GREEN I tell ya!)

Sherri has some GREAT books out, including her most recent, To Laugh Once More. Check them out on Amazon!!


What Are You Really Trying To Say? 
Writers are experts at talking to themselves. They're also experts at hearing voices in their heads. No, we're not crazy! We're just creating.

While we hear the voices in our heads and masterfully put them down on paper (or into the computer), do we really write what we've heard?

Recently, while editing for the umpteenth time my new release, I decided to try the text-to-speech feature on my computer. I often write using the voice-to-text feature on my phone, so I thought I'd give the reverse process a shot.

Boy, was I surprised! Quite often, I didn't type what I meant to type. And even though I'd read over the text a gazillion times and even had readers read it, none of us caught these errors. Even on my final run-through before hitting PUBLISH on Kindle, I found another missed mistake. I pray there are no more, haha!

After I write the first draft of a novel, I wait a month or so before I begin editing it. I call this the crockpot stage. I let the novel sit in my computer and cook a little while. When I come back with a fresh pair of eyes, it's easier to find my mistakes.

After the first round of edits, I print out a chapter at a time and do manual revisions. Then I have readers check out the story to see if they like it, and I ask them to let me know of any errors they find.
Then I start the process of catching "taboo" words and phrases, the words or phrases you shouldn't use if you're looking for a deep point of view in your story. I keep this list beside me, and I go one-by-one to check and see if they're in the story. If they are, I rework those places.

After that, I convert the Word document to a PDF and begin the process of letting the computer read the manuscript to me. For a PDF, you go to VIEW, READ ALOUD, and ACTIVATE READ ALOUD. Then you go back to VIEW, READ ALOUD, and hit READ TO END OF DOCUMENT. Some versions of Windows have this feature also. Mine doesn't. But you can find out how to do it by doing a quick search of your computer for the text-to-speech feature.

While the computer is reading, I keep my Word document open so I can make changes as I HEAR the mistakes I've made. It's amazing what you see with your ears that you don't see with your eyes. With my latest novel, I read the manuscript probably fifteen times. I was surprised when I let my computer read it to me with my earphones in my ears to block out all other sounds. I found even more errors.

Spell check wouldn't have caught these errors because the words were spelled correctly.

Check out these examples: 
  • The man behind the counter wore a white shirt, black plants and black suspenders.
  • Her eyes bugled.
  • Mother would've washed her mouth out with lye soup for listening to Marigold's gossip because there wasn't much of anything she could do to her ears for hearing it.
  • I'll send an initiation to my dear sisters to come for a long visit. 
  • The man behind the counter wore a white shirt, black PANTS (not plants) and black suspenders.
  • In the second example, I typed BUGLED instead of BULGED in the first example. I can't even imagine what it would look like for someone's eyes to bugle.
  • In the third example, mother would have washed her mouth out with lye SOUP not SOAP.
  • In the fourth example, she was going to send an INITIATION to her sisters instead of an INVITATION.
It's easy to make mistakes that spell check won't catch and that you and your readers won't catch either. The reason I didn't find these errors was because I knew what I wanted to say. I read what my mind said I was saying. I read it before my eyes even saw it.

Next time you edit, why don't you try to let your computer do the talking for you?

Sherri Wilson Johnson is an Inspirational Romance novelist, a speaker, and a former homeschooling mom who’d rather have laugh lines under her eyes than worry lines across her forehead. She lives in Georgia with her husband, her two children and her Chihuahua, Posey. Her favorite thing to do when she’s not with her family is to curl up with a good book or work on her current work-in-progress. She loves to dream of visiting romantic places and is passionate about the Lord, motherhood, homeschooling, and writing. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More, Song of the Meadowlark, and To Laugh Once More. She is a columnist with Habits for a Happy Home and Choose NOW Ministries.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Sherri, I love this idea. I'll have to find that feature on my computer. Thanks so much for sharing!

Krista Phillips said...

I've never tried this either! I am QUEEN of using the wrong word (I type pretty fast, I blame it on that!) and they are SO hard to catch!

Thanks for sharing the great idea, Sherri!!!