Peggy Bechko’s World of Editing Your Writing

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by Peggy Bechko

Fun, isn’t it?

Not really.

In this post I’m going to talk about a new way of editing I’ve discovered. Yes, we all have spellcheck, some of us use Grammarly. Go ahead, Google that one if you’re interested. It nicely underlines perceived spelling and grammatical errors. Very helpful.

But here’s what I’ve discovered. Who knows, I may be behind the times and you may have already stumbled onto it. For Word, there’s a text-to-speech function called Speak. It really is well hidden. What the heck is that you ask? Well, you can highlight any text and the program reads it back to you. Not only that, but reads it to you in a clear, understandable voice. The voice I get is male, but I’ve heard some get female.

No matter.

To get it functioning go to top left of your Word program. It’s on the very top tool bar. There’s a very small downward pointing arrow which, when you hover over it says, “customize quick access toolbar”. That’s what you want to do. For instructions clearer than mine you can watch this quick YouTube video:

If you think my instructions will suffice, then click on that downward arrow I mentioned. When the dropdown window appears, click on More Commands. Then, in the window change the Popular Commands to Commands Not In The Ribbon. Then scroll down (alphabetically) to “Speak”. Highlight Speak and click the ‘add’ button in the middle and see it added to the list to the right. That’s it. A new small icon should appear on that top ribbon just to the left of the downward arrow you clicked earlier.

Now what?

All you have to do is highlight the section of text you want read out loud, click the icon and it will read your writing back to you.

If I’m not working in word (I use Movie Magic Screenwriter for my scripts) I copy and paste the section of the script I want read back to me into word, highlight and click the Speak icon. Works great!

Why? What good is this you ask. Hearing words spoken while seeing them utilizes different parts of the brain and you catch many ore errors and glitches. It really makes errors pop much more efficiently than simply proofreading visually. All in all, a big help. And you can stop the reading by clicking the Speak button again.

The downside? If you’re working with accents, it’s not going to pick them up. Occasionally you can run into context problems such as using a phrase like “run like the wind” vs. “wind the clock”. And it can mess up abbreviations such as St. John or money St. Still, I’ve really liked using it and it has made editing much easier.

For the script writer it’s great to hear the words spoken, to get a feel for the rhythm and cadence.

Oh, and it’s possible to adjust the pitch, speed and volume of the voice in your computer by getting into the settings through your control panel. Find your Narrator by using the search bar (in Windows 10 the “ask me anything” search bar bottom left). When the window opens click on “Narrator Settings”. You can choose the voice – mine is “David”. I can adjust the speed, volume and pitch of ‘David’s’ voice there. Oh, and I have ‘intonation pauses’ turned on.

Really. Try it. You’ll be surprised at how many more errors you pick up and clean up when you have your work read back to you.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.