Thanksgiving weekend I drove 6.5 long hours from San Francisco to my sister’s in Southern California. The idea was to pick up some of my belongings that I left behind when I moved to the Bay Area. Since I was making the drive alone, I decided to find something to listen to so the hours would fly by. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could listen to my manuscript like it was an audiobook? That way I could drive AND edit.”

After testing a few free online text-to-MP3 options, I found they all sounded mechanical. To get the natural sounding voices, you had to pay money, which I wasn’t willing to do. Then I came across an iphone app – Speak It! This awesome app is a writer’s dream. I was able to listen to my MS – in a brilliant British accent no less. It offered up a different kind of editing experience. I have a tendency to constantly wordsmith and massage my text. It’s difficult for me to read for the larger picture. Since I was listening and unable to make notes, I was able to edit with a different part of my brain. I started picturing the characters and I really heard my MC’s voice. Not as it sounds in my head, but as a reader would hear it. Quite an educational experience.

Some things to note:

  1. It’s not a one-step process to get your text into the app. Here’s what I did: (1) emailed MS text to myself in the body of an email, (2) opened email on iphone, (3) selected all text and copied, (4) closed email and opened Speak It app, (5) pasted text into app, and (6) listened to text in my chosen voice!
  2. Since I pasted a huge body of text, the app had issues saving it. A couple of times I had to repaste it back in, but it was worth the hassle.
  3. The voice is a little mechanical and has trouble on some words (the funniest was that it kept pronouncing M-I-A as in Missing in Action as Mia, a girl’s name), but I stopped noticing it after a while as I got engrossed in the story.

I highly recommend trying Speak It, especially if you have trouble writing dialogue. 🙂