The Single Most Useful Editing Tool I’ve Used – #NaturalReader | The Write Stuff

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Today I’m sharing a fantastic post from friend and author Marcia Meara, about a useful editing tool she’s discovered for reading our work in Natural Reader back to us aloud. Please have a look at Marcia’s post below and feel free to let us know if you’ve tried this app and what you like and/or don’t like about it.


Reblog and featuring


Let me preface this post by saying that in my opinion, there is no app anywhere that will ever replace a good editor. Not everyone agrees with me, but I think the writers out there who can get away with skipping a professional editing are few and far between. If you are one of them, I apologize, as I don’t mean to imply there are none. But generally, I believe in a final edit by a qualified human being, the two operative words being “qualified” and “human.” ? Now, having gotten that out of the way, on to what I wanted to share with you today.


I use beta readers (9, actually on a private blog) and they read my draft, chapter by chapter, as I write. This lets me know when a chapter is doing what I need it to do, so I can make immediate tweaks or changes, if I’ve failed to get my points across. After my draft is complete, I submit my work to my editor, also chapter by chapter, because that’s how I like to work, and she accommodates me, thankfully. But between the completion of my draft, and any submissions to my editor, I revise each chapter myself, making any obvious corrections I spot, rephrasing here and there,  and running the chapter through editing software. I use SmartEdit most of the time, but there are quite a few out there.


The last thing I do before sending the chapter to my editor is listen to it on NaturalReader. . . Continue reading


Source: The Single Most Useful Editing Tool I’ve Used – #NaturalReader | The Write Stuff 


*Note: Alternatively, you can also you the text to speech function in Word, which was mentioned by a few writers in comments. When I finish writing my next book and begin edits, I’ll be trying both. I’ll keep you posted. Below is a link which will explain how to get the ‘text to speech’ function going in your Word program.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this post, Deb. Now that I know about the speech option in Word, I have been both it and Natural Reader, and will be doing a comparison post soon. At this point, I like using both. As I’m writing, if I want to hear a paragraph played back, I highlight it and click on the speech icon in Word to hear it immediately. When the chapter is done, I open it in Natural Reader to hear the whole thing, as I think the inflection is a bit better, and gives me a slightly more realistic feel to how an actual human would read. I’m using the Free version, and if I upgrade to the paid one, I’d have even more options in Natural Reader, so will probably do that at some point. But I can’t recommend using SOME sort of reader enough. You won’t believe the errors you hear that way.

    1. I was thrilled to learn of both these helpful tools Marsh. Surely, all us writers who weren’t aware will find it most useful. I know I sure will when it comes to revisions on my next book. And thanks for letting us know the difference in you found between the two with how it sounds when it’s reading back to us. This is a fabulous discovery! 🙂

      1. So glad it was helpful to you, Deb. It makes the biggest difference in my overall revisions (before submitting to my editor) of any tool I’ve tried, though I do like running things through Smart Edit, too, for a count of things like repeated words/phrases, adverbs, and clichés. But even when that’s done, I hear things in the text to speech programs I would have missed, otherwise. 🙂

        1. Absolutely Marsh. It never hurts to let ‘someone’ else read back to us. Our ears may catch something our eyes miss when reading the same thing over and over. 🙂

    2. Oops, I just also noticed in my intro I mentioned Word and not Natural Reader. I’ve corrected that 🙂

    3. Thank you for sharing your experience and expertise, Marcia. Although I often read my own words aloud as I [attempt to] proof, it never occurred to me to use a reader, mostly because I usually find those mechanical voices more distracting than helpful.

      I’m ap-ignorant, however. MUST I use an ap on my smart phone, or does everyone but me know how to use them from a computer – which is the only way I work?
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  2. This is a great post and I can definitely see the advantages during final editing. I plan to use Word’s version of the tool on my next book. I compared them after reading the article and they’re very similar. A great share.

    1. Me too Diana. I compared them too and having it Word is convenient. A great help this tool. 🙂

  3. Very interesting summary of how you edit. I’ve considered having a digital device read my novel to me, but never done more than think about it. You have encouraged me to rethink the ‘just think’ thing.

    Well wasn’t that confusing!

    1. Lol Jacqui. But seriously, I think either of these apps will be fantastic at those stages when in revisions and we have to read over and over our work. Of course we’ll still have to read, but a couple of listen throughs should prove valuable to catch what our eyes miss. 🙂

  4. A terrific post by Marcia and so glad you reblogged, Deb. I hope more people find it as useful as I have ♥

    1. I think we all have! I’m so looking forward to using it in next revisions . . . if I ever finish writing this book, lol. <3

  5. Great post. Badly needed! When you do want to reach out to a veteran professional editor, I am at your service, Ladies & gents!

    1. Thanks so much Margaret for dropping by. And, did you hear that everyone? LOL 🙂

  6. Sounds like a great app, indeed!!!!… However I´d have to completely agree with you when you say that we can´t compare this tools with an editor.
    You say: ” I believe in a final edit by a qualified human being, the two operative words being qualified and human”… The adjectives are keys here: “human” & “qualified”.
    It happens with me when I am looking for words or expressions in English. I just can´d (don´t) use the Translator as it usually fails. I choose Linguee, instead (Spanish to English) Check out a sample: . It works or at least works better!…That´s because it gives you a quite thorough list of regular uses of an expression, so to speak. Language in its context! 😀
    Great share dear Debbie… I hope you are doing well 🙂 Love & best wishes across the miles!

    1. Hi Aqui. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and leaving that link for translator. By no means would Marcia or I suggest this app to take the place of an editor, but I’m looking forward to using it when going through revisions on my next book. Sometimes reading our work over and over makes us see what we think we want to see and hearing it read back from someone else helps us pick off things we miss. 🙂 Sending you big hugs back my sweet friend. <3 xoxo

  7. Isn’t this amazing! I’m really impressed and eager to try it out.

    Thanks for commenting on my recent post, Debby, but somehow your post got lost.(:

    Go away from WordPress for two minutes and they’ve changed stuff around.

    Hopefully your comment will reappear! 🙂

    1. I think many writers will appreciate using these apps for reading back our work while in revisions Carol.
      Arg, and WP is playing tricks with so many of us these days. I left you a lengthy comment too. I’ll come back and check. 🙂 I know I welcomed you back! <3

    2. Oh Carol, I feel your pain (but I must admit that part of me is pleased to read that the WordPress Gremlins haven’t singled me out for hassles with figuring out the WordPress “improvements.”)

  8. I’ll have to take a read to learn more about this editing tool!

    1. Yes, and there is a link to the one in Word I left. 🙂

  9. Thanks for reblogging this, Debbie. I’ll be clicking over to Marcia’s site to read more – and if I can figure out this “ap” thing that everyone else seems to have down already, I’ll give Natural Reader a good college try.

    1. So glad you’re intrigued with this app. Also, don’t forget the similar app, text to speech is also available in Word. 🙂 xx

      1. I wonder if it’s in my version (and if it’s any good if it is). I decided NOT to continue to upgrade after the 2008 version, which was more stable than many that came after it (in the Mac version, anyway), so I didn’t have to learn any more new layouts – lol.

        Back when I was in computers (before the Dark Ages), the prime directive was, “Never mess with the interface.” Now, software designers seem to code under a new sign, “FIRST, remap the keys.”

        I guess when you only type with your thumbs it doesn’t really matter. 🙂 Do they even teach touch typing anymore?

        1. Lol, just one more similarity! I need new changes to software. I use Word 2007 on my desktop for writing my books. I have 2016 here on my laptop Windows 10 and still don’t know how to work properly with it. I checked out the text to speech app on my laptop and it works! I haven’t even checked yet on my desktop where I’ll be needing it, but I’m pretty sure the link I’ve attached for Word encompasses the older version. 🙂

          1. Ha! And I thought I was the only one.

  10. I found this post quite interesting and am heading over to Marcia’s blog to read the rest of it. I also believe that no app can ever replace a human touch and skill yet let me see how this one works! Thanks for sharing Debbie, you are awesome!

    1. Great Balroop. Glad you found it helpful. Although it’s no substitute for editing, it’s helpful to read back our work to listen for things our eyes miss while in revisions. 🙂

  11. This is awesome, Debby and Marcia. I was excited to hear about NaturalReader. I wasn’t aware of it before. But I was even more excited when I read about the “Speak” option in Word. I wasn’t aware of it either and I’ve just tried it out. Amazing. I can’t believe I didn’t know of it. Thank you both very much. I’ve learned so much in the last few minutes from your posts. I’m excited! 🙂

    1. So great Norah that you got something for our post. There are so many apps out there that we don’t always know what’s out there and it’s great when someone else has tried it to give us feedback. The reading back will be so valuable in book revisions. 🙂

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