Tools For Writers: Using Dragon Dictate

Detail from a Hawaiian shirtFor a couple of months now, I’ve been experimenting with using Dragon Dictate for writing, both fiction and nonfiction. In fact, I’m using it to write this post.

It’s not perfect. I do have to go back and check what I have dictated, because errors do creep in, sometimes wonderfully funny ones (as well as the occasional expletive directed at Raven when he’s crawling on me). But, I find it is a faster way to write. It works very well when I know what it is that I want to say. For free writing, I’ll still stick with pen and paper, or sometimes the keyboard. It is, by the way, incredibly handy when you are transcribing stuff that cannot be scanned in.

It’s tons better than the dictation capability on my phone. Dragon Dictate can keep up with me as I ramble along, and doesn’t ever make me pause to let it catch up.

I absolutely HAD to finish up a story yesterday (Hi Lynne, if you’re reading this). Dragon Dictate was immense help with that, for several reasons. One, I can dictate it aloud faster than I can write. Two, I used it to transcribe the notes that I’d made in various places and go over them, expanding as I went.

Generally, once I had spent a little time working with the software, and it got a chance to refine its profile for me, I have been very satisfied with the results, inconsiderate well worth the money, if only for the productivity boost.

It is odd, however, to be dictating what I say and need to put all the punctuation in. I find myself, at times, wanting to stick the punctuation in during regular speech. It makes me speak in grammatically correct sentences, compose the words in my head before I speak them, rather than just grabbing them willy-nilly and flinging them into the sentence.

I do find writing dialogue a bit of a pain in the ass. That’s because of the need to dictate the punctuation as well as the words. But I look forward to becoming more adept with the tool, and being able to edit with voice alone as well.

Before anyone asks if it’s available on a Macintosh, I am actually using it on a Mac. Have you tried any dictation software? What have your experiences been?

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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