Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Take on Tics

Do you have any writing tics, and how do you deal with them?


My tics: Flinch when asked how long I've been writing, considering I only published in 2016, and stutter when asked anything else. How do I deal with it? I push myself to talk in public. How's that working out? So-so.

But the question is really about tics in the actual writing (thank you Art for clarifying).

I'm not sure I have any, unless you call too often falling into schmaltz a tic. The only remedy for that is ruthless editing. Same with desperately wanting to use that beautiful but ostentatious word that your character would never even contemplate... Cut! And then there's the tic of assuming everyone knows what you're talking about. The two remedies for that are: 1) pull your head out of your ass, and 2) hopefully find a good critic to read and red circle early on in the process. (by "you" I mean "me" here, which is probably a tic right there!)

But I'm grateful for this question re TICS, because it allows me to tell you of some interesting recent tic-defying discoveries.

No matter how many times you edit on screen, you probably find words that repeat unpleasantly, or sentences that just don't ring well. A couple of months ago, when I told my Facebook friends I was in the editing stage of my second in the series, and am experimenting with reading aloud, to deal with the above-mentioned sins, I was given two bits of advice:

One friend told me to reformat the text into book-like shape, single spaced and with larger margins, etc., print out, and read to self. I thought to myself, yeah, right, as if that will help! Well, it did! Thanks to that I rehashed the first chapter. Unfortunately I was verging on deadline, so could only do the first few pages in that fashion, but am grateful I did, and will likely do entire next book like so.

Another friend told me that reading aloud is great, but exhausting (which it is), and that Word has a read-aloud option, that is the onboard computer will read out your text. The Word's dictator is awful. I couldn't figure it out, and when I could get him to read the right bits, his voice was maddening. My son said, "Hey, there's probably an app for that." There is!

I'm sure there are many apps for that, but the first one I downloaded, with the elegant name "Text Narrator for Reading Books/Articles" works great! You can try it for free, and then it only costs a couple of bucks after the trial period. It's got a male or female option, and you can slow down or speed up the speech. Just cut the part you want to read and paste in the box, and push "Speak".

The Tick's battle cry
I find it fantastically helpful. When I'm tired I can just close my eyes and listen. It's great for finding repeats and general awkwardnesses, and even plot holes.

This app may not be for everyone. My narrator, Mark -- we have a kind of rapport by now -- isn't perfect. His diction is fairly lifelike, but he doesn't handle dashes well, and spells out words he doesn't understand, and mispronounces things terribly sometimes, but he does make me laugh as a result, and that's a bonus.

That's it for my take on tics!


Art Taylor said...

Fascinating stuff here, Rae! Thanks for sharing. I'm gonna check out that app myself.

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks for sharing - didn't know about that app......yes, I read aloud during editing, and it might help :-)

Alan Orloff said...

Some excellent suggestions! I'd read aloud more, but I don't like the sound of my voice.

Unknown said...

Thanks! Me too, Alan - don't like my voice, that is. Forgot to mention that one...

Susan C Shea said...

I get hoarse in just a few pages so I might get that app, even if it's only good for laughs. Thanks!

RJ Harlick said...

Who knew? This app sounds like something to check out. Like the others I get tired of my own voice. Good post, RM

Sean McGinnis said...

Great post. I tried the built in word reader but found it too robotic. I'll have to try that app. I love that animated shot of the Tick. Well done.

Unknown said...

Thanks Susan, RJ, Sean!