Best Proofreading Tool Ever!
I suppose, like most things, I’m late to this particular game, but I’ve finally utilized the Speak program in Word to edit my manuscript, and may I just say, Hot Damn! Hearing the words narrated aloud—even in cringe-worthy robot voice with almost zero inflection—has done wonders for my editing skills. I’ve already picked up on several typos I had repeatedly glossed over because my writer’s brain was already compensating and changing the word in my head.
To be perfectly honest, I can’t take credit for discovering this very handy editing tool. It was a piece in the March 2017 issue of the Romance Writers Report by Patricia Watters, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I finally followed the instructions in the article and set up the Speak program. I really encourage any writer, but particularly self-published writers, to use this program. Like Watters mentions in her article, “Hearing the words as well as seeing them uses different parts of the brain, and together you have a very powerful editing tool.”
So, for those of you out there who have Microsoft Word (versions 7, 8, or 10), here’s how you set it up. FYI, these steps come directly from Watters’ article.
Open Word and add the “Speak” command by completing the following steps.
1. Go to the Quick Access Toolbar at the top of the page (this is the area highlighted in blue, usually with the save disc icon, the back arrow icon, the undo arrow icon, ect.)
2. Click the Customize Quick Access Arrow (the last icon in the toolbar, which is a little dropdown arrow)
3. Select More Commands
4. Select All Commands from the dropdown list
5. Select Speak command
6. Click OK
7. Now, anytime you want to choose text-to-speech, just highlight your text and click the Speak icon in the Quick Access Toolbar (it’ll look like a cartoon word bubble with a play arrow)
Happy editing, fellow writers!
The Art of the Epilogue
I’ve been contemplating endings lately—more on that in a later blog—but in relation to writing, the epilogue comes to mind. Romance novelists love employing the epilogue, but I find myself thinking they’re often unnecessary. If an epilogue only exists to reinforce that the hero and heroine indeed grasped their Happy Ever After, well, I don’t think it’s all that essential. The HEA should’ve been a no-brainer in the final chapter. Hopefully, they already raced across that figurative daisy field from opposite directions and the heroine jumped into the hero’s arms and he spun her around and around until she was wicked dizzy. In my humble opinion, you can’t improve on that, so why try?
I didn’t write an epilogue for Clingstone. There was a time when I flirted with the idea of possibly writing one, but from Creighton’s perspective, and it would’ve picked up about ten years after the last chapter. The hardships from the war would’ve been a distant memory, and the reader would’ve received a heartening glimpse that this ordinary couple falling in love during extraordinary times had not only survived, but thrived. Ornery little Owen Scott would’ve almost been fully grown, and the reader could’ve been reassured that he’d learned to compensate for his missing hand. I pictured all of them on a little farm somewhere, very Little House on the Prairie, with a few miniature versions of Creighton and Mae running about to complete the HEA.
In the end, I didn’t think that epilogue—or any epilogue, really—was necessary. I knew my hero and heroine would live HEA and the specifics of how and where that happiness unfolded didn’t really matter. I passed it off to my readers to picture the details, and I’m happy with that decision.
Conversely, I’ve always known I would require an epilogue for Watermark. There’s one big outcome in particular that never gets answered by the end of the book, and so an epilogue is definitely needed to show how everything resolves itself. There’s a few other little nuggets as well that I never had an opportunity to expound on until the epilogue—specifically, the origins of the title, which makes me sigh happily whenever I picture my hero Malcolm explaining it.
[Cue happy sigh here]