Monday, August 14, 2006

Talking to myself

It's been a busy Monday, so I'm just now getting around to blogging. Right now I'm playing with a new toy, the voice-recognition software with which I am dictating this post. I owe a big thanks to my author friend Lyn Cote, who highly recommended Dragon Naturally Speaking. I bought it today and have spent the past twenty minutes training the program to my voice by reciting bits and snatches of Shakespearen sonnets. When I started fumbling too many of the lines, I switched to the Gettysburg Address, only to get stuck after, "But in a larger sense, we cannot (something something), we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, (something something)...." I gave up when I realized I was beginning to sound like Bertie Wooster.

The software is working pretty well, except that it wants to insert two spaces after the end of each sentence, and that is no longer the standard. But right out of the box, this $200 program is a good deal. It's fun sitting back in my chair with my eyes closed as I dictate. Yes, I will undoubtedly have to make a few corrections--the software tends to have trouble differentiating between things like "ice cream" and "I scream." But I don't scream all that often; the bigger problem is that I don't always enunciate, and I often stutter. Still, I think I'm going to love this program for rough-drafting scenes in my manuscripts.

I think I'll go back to "work" for a while. Everyone have a great evening.

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Tina said...

...wants to insert two spaces after the end of each sentence, and that is no longer the standard.

Holy carp! Are you serious? Is this the sort of thing I have to go back and fix in all my fiction writing? When I do start submitting to publishers I don't want to be rejected outright because of something like that!!!

I know this wasn't the point of the post but it's something I was not aware of.

TrudyJ said...

Yeah that threw me too. A magazine editor I wrote for a couple of years ago used to ask me to go back and fix everything because she needed it with only one space after the period. I thought she was nuts. I had no idea this was industry standard now and as I'm a fast typist, I think the two-space rule is something so hardwired into my fingers that I won't be able to change it now.

Maybe I can comfort myself with the belief that if I get a manuscript rejected, it's because there were 2 spaces after every period.

As for voice-recognition software -- I assume this stuff is getting better all the time, right? I've never used it, but when my husband and I got our then-new computer way back in 97 we tried using the voice-activated commands. It was hilarious how precisely you had to get not just the words but the intonation right before it would obey you. We used to joke about using that computer on board the Enterprise ... "Computer, fire phasers NOW! ... Fire PHASERS now! ... FIRE ... oh forget it, we're dead."

I'm sure any program you paid $200 for is a lot better than that.

Brenda Coulter said...

I'm not sure I'd trust my Dragon to fire those phasers, Trudy, but I was able to teach it that I wanted one space, not two, after sentences.

Tina, sweetheart, don't panic. If your manuscript interests an editor, she's not going to burn it just because you went a little nuts with the spacebar. ;-)

And you need not make all those changes by hand. Word processors come with a "global find and replace" command, which means you can enter a single command and then sit back and watch as every extra space in your document is deleted. In MS Word, hit CTRL + f (for "find"), click Replace, type two spaces in the first box and one space in the second, and then hit Replace All. That should do it.

H.E.Eigler said...

I'd often thought that voice recognition would be a fun way to write, however, I think I might feel silly sitting in a room and talking to myself for hours on end! :o)

Brenda Coulter said...

All right, it is a little weird. But if a writer can't be eccentric, who can?

Susan Kaye said...

Several years ago I got $20 dollars for reading text that was being used to teach the technology word recognition software is based on. I wish I had enough to buy the software now. I sit and talk to myself while I'm writing anyway, why not get it into the computer in a more convenitent manner?

As for the Two Space Rule, my mom lectured me on that for years until I dared to tell her it was gone, gone. She looked into it and, for once, I was right. *phew*

Take care

Audra said...

It wouldn't be a stretch for me, I talk to myself all the time. I don't always understand myself though, so that could be a problem. ;)
Seriously though, something like this would be really useful when my arms are full of sleeping baby and I'm sitting here looking at the monitor wishing I could get some writing done. :)
Oh honey...can I have a couple hundred dollars. Somehow I don't think he'd go for it at this time.

Brenda Coulter said...

There's a Standard Version available for $99. I just wanted the one with all the bells and whistles.

It's been working great, except when my husband or kid comes into my office to speak with me. I keep forgetting to instruct the Dragon to "go to sleep," so whatever I say to my family gets typed into my document. That is going to take some getting used to!