Thursday, September 23, 2010

Listening to Talera

I've already mentioned here that I've been letting my Kindle read books to me on my long daily commute. I've been enjoying that process, and feeling less like I'm wasting my time with the driving.

I decided last week to load my Talera trilogy onto the Kindle and let it read those to me. I've finished listening to Swords of Talera so far and am about a third of the way through Wings Over Talera. Witch of Talera is up next. After that I may keep it going by listening to Robert E. Howard's Almuric, which is also a sword and planet work.

I make a habit out of reading my material out loud before I ever submit it, but listening to the 'whole' thing is actually pretty helpful. I noticed in "Swords" that I repeated the word "well" a lot, and I had not picked up on that merely by reading it. I may start doing this for manuscripts before I submit them. The Kindle voice doesn't offer inflections well so you can also get a feeling for how important it is to convey the emotion in the dialogue rather than by attaching tags such as "he shouted," etc. All in all, I think it could make a useful writing tool.

I'm also finding, happily, that I'm really enjoying listening to my own works. It's kind of weird in a way, but you know I really like these stories. I'm proud of them. I'm so glad they are out there.

By the way, if anyone reading this has read Witch of Talera and feels the urge to review it on Amazon, I'd appreciate it. "Swords" and "Wings" both have reviews but "Witch" doesn't. I'm not sure it makes any difference but it couldn't hurt.

Thanks to everyone for listening.





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59 comments:

Sidney said...

That is an interesting idea, and a great way to review. I know from my recent educational experiences that I use the word just with some frequency.

David Cranmer said...

I've been having the Kindle read to me during my daily commute as well. When they eventually add inflections, audio books will have had its day.

Btw I brought your second Talera book with me on the trip. I've already read it but its that good.

David J. West said...

I have culled, "well" from my most recent projects too, that and "now" turn up like a plague.

Richard Prosch said...

Is it possible to add works in progress to the Kindle? Another way to do it would be to "save as" a Word doc to PDF and let the computer read the PDF. Hmmm...thanks for the tip!

Charles Gramlich said...

Sidney, it's amazing how certain things creep in there as regulars. I was really wincing at the "wells" after a while.

David Cranmer, I know I wish it had the inflections but it generally works pretty well for me. I'm glad you've been enjoying Wings. That makes my day.

David J. West, I'll be doing a global search for this in the future.

Richard, I actually just send word files to kindle and they send them back to me kindlized, so you can change any word file or text file of any length to kindle form. My kindle actually "won't" read PDF files, though, for whatever reason I don't know. But it will read kindlized text and word files just fine.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I'm curious about the monotone computer readers - how is the pronunciation of exotic alien place names?

I've often wondered just how it would handle a Barsoom novel, for instance.

Evan Lewis said...

I'm expecting Swords of Talera to arrive any day now, but I'm afraid I'll have to read it the old fashioned way.

eric1313 said...

Still seeking balance in the over used word department... when I eliminate one, another crops up. "Well, Just, Now..." I think they get over used because they are words thrown out there subconsciously during the creative process, the little bridges that keep the story flowing from within us. They have a use, but need to be attended to in the revision process.

I can't imagine revision on a novel-wide scale... Poetry and short blurbs are enough to for me, considering I comb through a piece 4 or 5 times.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Clever use of the Kindle voice. I'll remember to read my next book out loud and probably more than once.

Charles Gramlich said...

Paul, it appears to use phonetic pronounciation. It doesn't pronounce many of the names as I'd like them to be pronounces. With Talera, for example, it puts the emphasis on the Tal instead of the "lera." and Maclang is pronounced like macklin. I have the Princess of Mars in text form so eventually I'll kindlize it and listen to it to let you know.

Evan, I think it's better 'read' that way myself. Plus you get the immediate impact of the footnotes, which doesn't work well in Kindle. Hope you enjoy.

Eric1313, yes, it's exactly what our mind reaches for in those unconscious moments, and so it helps pick those out of if you can listen to the words being read out loud

Alex, I think it really helps to read it out loud. You catch extra long sentences, and awkward phrasings very well that way.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Great idea, Charles.

Ty Johnston said...

I can second the idea of listening to your writing behind read back to you, though I got out of the habit of doing so. It does help you pick up on a lot of little things.

I still have an older version of Final Draft software from back when I was screenwriting, and it has the capability of reading your text back to you. Helped me discover lots of stuff about my own writing, bad habits I hoped I've broken since.

Deka Black said...

Cunning and smart use of the Kindle functions, Charles. Hope you not count the exact mnumber of times you use "well".

And about words and bad habits... Mine is one just used noew, this three points --> ... Very bad habit, When i searxh for them in my lines i feel like confessing a murder or something.

BStearns said...

That's a really cool way of doing things Charles. It makes sense that it would work so well.

Steve Malley said...

I'll have a quick skim of 'Witch' to refresh and get a review up this weekend. :-D

pattinase (abbott) said...

Just got a kindle. Didn't know you could do that. It must point out some new things to thing about.

ArtSparker said...

This is making me think of "being John Malkovich".

Deka Black said...

Forgot before, Charles: Is posiible what in a few eeks (5 or 7) i could buy one of your books. All depend of the income of a job i will do next week.

laughingwolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
laughingwolf said...

i've read all your talera books, as you know, and enjoyed em immensely, though 'cold' is still my fave :)

to do a 'witch' review justice, i'd have to re-read it... suffice to say, i like it best, of the three....

elsewhere: over- and misuse of 'that' really annoy me

Travis Cody said...

I haven't tried the read-to-me feature yet. I wonder if it would have helped me get through Rainbow Six.

Sorry...didn't mean to throw another "wonder" at you today! It just slipped out.

Cloudia said...

I can relate.
I know by the "sound" of my words when they work. Had to read my little novella aloud to a friend over a few days to know it was 'ready.'

And hearing it DOES reveal repetitions!


wishing you all the best with
Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Charles Gramlich said...

Issa's Untidy Hut, it seems to be worth a little something at least.

Ty Johnston, I don’t do it as often as I used to either, but I’m going to make sure I start trying to remember to do it every time now. I just think it really helps me.

Deka Black, I left some wells in there. That word is used in a variety of senses. The main place I overused it was in dialogue. Well, (See how easy it is to use that word?), they say to kill your darlings, so kill those overused words too, I guess.

Bryan, thankee. I didn’t even think of it until I started doing it. A completely accidental discovery.

Steve Malley, thanks, man. I appreciate it. I’m afraid if there are “no” reviews it may seem to readers like people decided to quit after the second book.

pattinase (abbott), I imagine my kindle still has some surprises for me. I figure that one out fairly recently because I wanted to use it for reading old Doc Savage and The Shadow pulp stories.

ArtSparker, hum, I kind of liked that movie. Quite weird. Which is a plus for me.

Deka Black, understood, man. Money is not easy to come by these days.

laughingwolf, I actually thought it was the best of the three plot wise, but it was written quite a long time after the other two for sure so you’d hope I would have learned something. I try to check my “that’s” because that one is very easy to overuse.


Travis Cody, lol. I’ve found it easier to ‘listen’ to the Doc Savage books than read them so it might.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, absolutely. the music of a piece is so important.

Carole said...

I love the fact that you are proud of your stories and really like them. I think that speaks volumes to the type of writer you are. Excellent.

ivan said...

The professor who was faculty advisor for my college's literary magazine, through whom I managed to get four poems and a short story into a big chapbook called The Fifth Page, said it was a funny thing when you heard your own words on air.
Some famous writers have been pole- axed when hearing their own short stories on radio."They are so poor, these words, so thin." My prof thought it was Joseph Conrad who had said this--though Conrad was Edwardian and not modern-- or maybe Henry James, much later in his life, after radio was invented.
Yet who can argue that Conrad or James were not good writers?

The quiet horror of The Turn of the Screw, or the study of cowardice in Lord Jim...Masterpieces.

Well, I did hear one of my stories read on cable TV some years ago. Sounded awful, clumsy.

Turn of the Screw? It was more like Screw of the Tern.

Maybe there is hope. The authors who were most critical when hearing themselves on air, seemed the most successful.

Never leave a tern unstoned, I say. Keep being critical of your work.

Voice and print are two different mediums.

The almost fax-like cackle of print on white space can virtually set the page afire, whereas, the voice, after it stops, seems gone forever.

Charles Gramlich said...

Carole, it took a lot of work to get them to that point. I am a compulsive editor, but at least sometimes it seems to pay off.

Ivan, I'm only just finding out in the past year or two about the clear differences between an audio and written presentation. I've been lucky enough to have a podcast made of one of my stories, and it was really intersting to listen to. By this time of course my work has been edited so much that if it wasn't at least OK I should just hang up the keyboard.

ivan said...

There is no question as to the quality or adeptness of your writing.

ivan said...

There is no question as to the quality or adeptness of your writing.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Charles, you should think about copying the entire text of a manuscript into wordle and then looking at the word cloud created. It will show you the most heavily used words and give you a feel for a tone...I've done it with interesting results.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ivan, thanks, man.

Stewart, hum, I never thought of that. Thanks for the tip.

Heff said...

AHHHHH.

Kindle can READ IT FOR YOU.

I KNEW there HAD to be an ANGLE....

X. Dell said...

Rats!! (Stomps up and down) I missed out on your quizzes. Just for that, I won't tell you how I did on them.

I used to use a TTS for everything. Hearing someone (or more accurately, something) else read your writing is a great way to catch things. The fact that the Kindle has this ability makes me think about actually buying the damn thing.

BernardL said...

That is a great idea. Those oft repeated words would definitely jump out when having it read aloud.

Deka Black said...

I believe the most repeated word when a wordsmith search his own work for overused works is swear words.

"(insert swear)! Another time, 56 in a row, and only is page 5!"

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, I'm always working the angles, man.



X. Dell, by not telling me you are telling me, man!

BernardL, to my chagrin actually. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, that might well be.

benjibopper said...

That is a very cool idea. I'll have to try that. So, it's a digitized voice I take it?

Travis Erwin said...

I can see how that would be of a great benefit. If only I can scrape together enough pennies to finally buy one.

Aimless Writer said...

I love books on CD! I have a 40 minute ride to work and always have a book with me. I can't wait to get a Kindle, but I think the librarian is going to miss me.
Can you use headphones with a kindle?

Charles Gramlich said...

Benjibopper, it is, although it sounds relatively natural. But it does have issues with prononciation, especially if the spelling is the same for two different words, like lead and lead. It will chose one for the word in all situations.

Travis Erwin, they have been going down in price at least.

Aimless writer, you can use headphones. I plug mine into the car using a cable into the auxilary port of the car and into the headphone jack for the device. Then I play it through my car speakers. But it doesn't have the same reading quality as audio books though.

sage said...

As a lot of my writing is done "for the ear," I always read it aloud. I also enjoy listening to books read but am not sure I'd like a computer voice reading without emotion

JR's Thumbprints said...

I, too, like reading what I've written. First, it's all about the story. Second, it's how it sounds.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, interestingly from a writer's standpoint, having ones own work read without emotion helps point out some of the places where your prose and dialogue falls down, but for just listening pleasure I'd certainly rather have the emotion.

JR., yes, sound is so important to me. It's why I don't listen to music while I write. The music intereferes with the internal music of the piece.

Deka Black said...

And then, we have the Bored Nonsense Syndrome. Happens when a wordsmith is so bored, type random keys and make the device read them.

The results are variable and go from the funniest things you can hear to the most bizarre nonsense human mind can make.

Michelle's Spell said...

Really good tips, Charles! I'll try the listening thing . . . I don't have much of a commute, but I do listening to books at the gym. Helps with the pain/boredom thing.

jennifer said...

I found something I had written recently and was sort of pleased. It was pretty good (for me)!

Your Razorbacks are going to give me an ulcer. This is the most exciting game I've watched this year. I'll need a drink when this is over and I'm not a drinking woman! :)

Deka Black said...

I don't know where ask for this. So... What of this books of yours: Bitter Steel/Swords of Talera recommend to read first?

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka Black, Swords of Talera is a novel, and the first of a trilogy. It's sword and planet fiction and I'm very fond of it. Bitter steel is a collection of short stories. I think if you prefer novels, swords would be good. but if you want a taste of the range of my stuff, Bitter steel gives more a general idea.

Michelle, listening to stuff can be a distraction. Thus I'm listening to Danzig tonight.

jennifer, it was a pretty good game, but Mallett really showed his immaturity. He definitely does not deserve the Heisman.

Deka Black said...

Hmm Better Bitter Steel then. Knowing a bit of all your work is better, i believe.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, I hope you enjoy.

Deka Black said...

I let you know my impressions ;)

eric1313 said...

Sometimes I miss getting 50 or more responses, but I was also frazzled from keeping up with all the commenting individual's blogs and reading well enough to say something back aside from "nice writing" or "I agree". But it was good discipline during a time that I had very little of it.

Kate Sterling said...

What a great idea, Charles - I would have never thought of that. (Perhaps because I don't like listening to books on tape.) However, as a tool, I can see where it would be immensely helpful.

I don't get much out of reading my own works aloud, because I still make them sound as I hear them in my head, and so can't be objective. But having a computer read it back might just be the ticket. :)

Thanks for sharing the tip. And I'm glad you were pleased by what you heard! I'd be terrified of mine. lol

Rick said...

Hello Charles. Been gone for a while, but I'll definitely try the audio version. I didn't even know til I read this that Kindle could read to us.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka Black, thankee.

eric1313, i'm leaving my posts up 3 days these days so that's part of the reason certainly.

Kate Sterling, I've not listened to books on tape much either. With the kindle it makes it easy to listen to the whole thing without having to change CDs or anything.

Rick, glad you are doing ok, man. Had been wondering where you'd gotten off to.

Dayana Stockdale said...

Hey Charles! Great idea. Not having the inflection does sound really helpful. Sometimes--no often--I'll catch myself projecting what I want the book to be when I read aloud. My Mac has this thing where you can highlight text and the computer will read it. Sounds a little brutal to listen to the computer for so long, but I bet it'll help me catch a lot. Sounds like a good final draft to me!

Charles Gramlich said...

Dayana, I wonder if my pc can do any of that. I'll have to check it out. Would save time transferring to Kindle.

Greg Schwartz said...

That does sound like a good writing tool. Great idea!