Dictating Your Novel – A Final Review - Indie Pub It
In February of this year, I wrote an article for this column, Try A Dragon For Speed Dictation Writing.
Six months have elapsed since the article was posted and I thought I would circle back and do a hindsight review.
To quickly summarize the points I made in the original article:
· There is a new trend: Dictating your work using voice recognition software.
· The most popular dictation software is Dragon Naturally Speaking
· Once you’ve got used to speaking your books aloud, you can reach fantastic speeds, which ties into the prolificacy advantage that indie authors have.
· Dictation is not for everyone.
o You have to know how to write a story.
o You have to know what you’re going to write before you write it.
o You have to be prepared to re-learn old tricks.
o You have to think ahead of your mouth.
· There is an investment involved in switching to dictation.
· In the end your only option is to try it out for yourself.
The emphasis, above, I have added here and I will explain why in a minute.
When I wrote the article in mid-January, I was more than halfway through dictating a full sized novel. I was getting the hang of dictating, and I can’t deny I really enjoyed the speed at which words hit the page.
The novel was well over 90,000 words, so the experiment was a serious one. I invested in the software, bought a wireless headset and worked long enough with the software to become proficient with it.
I really wanted this experiment to work and it seemed that it had. The novel was written in record time. I revised and sent the manuscript off to my editor, and started in on the next novel.
When I got the edited manuscript back, I was appalled.
I usually write very clean first drafts and I spend time polishing them before sending them to the editor. My MS come back with few corrections. However, the manuscript I had dictated came back with red ink all over the place. My editor reached a point where she simply indicated that I should search for more “xxx” throughout the rest of the manuscript and adjust them because she would not mark them up any more. There were too many. She made this observation on not one, but several items.
One of the items, for example, was an overuse of the word “but”. Out of curiosity, I went back to the draft I sent my editor and counted how many were in the manuscript. The number was in the mid-hundreds.
Between the “buts” and several other deplorable habits, I spent five days cleaning up the manuscript, thereby losing any time gained by dictating the novel in the first place.
I should also point out that this experiment underlined precisely why an indie author should hire an editor to look at their books before publishing. I sent the MS off, thinking it was pretty clean. It was only after my editor pointed out some of the horrible habits that had crept into the MS that I saw them for myself and freaked out. Without her, that manuscript would be out there with that dirty linen showing. Ugh.
Once the hard work of cleaning up the manuscript was done I sat back and analyzed what had happened. Even my editor had observed that I wasn’t up to my usual standard on this one, which made my heart sink.
Unfortunately, in hindsight, it is very clear what happened. By dictating the novel, I had put on the page all my usual habits of speech, instead of the habitual way I write. Until I used the dictation software, I had not realized how very different my speaking habits and my writing voice are.
I instantly un-installed the dictation software, and switched back to using a keyboard, and I admit that there was a touch of relief in doing it, too. I got back to the act of writing being completely invisible, with me thinking about what comes next in the story and the words appearing on the screen. I am sure that if I had continued to use the dictation software long enough, I would have reached that invisible process state with the software, too.
However, I have written and published over sixty five books and my habits are so deeply ingrained now that it could well take another dozen or more books to make dictation the invisible process that typing is. I’m not willing to lose the time that such an adjustment would demand.
At the top of this article, I highlighted part of the summary from February’s column: Dictation is not for everyone.
I suggested in February that writers coming new to writing might find it easier to use dictation than to type. I believe this even more firmly now. Newer writers have no ingrained habits to overcome. They will be able to learn how to write properly from the outset, using dictation software right from the start, so that it becomes as invisible to them as a keyboard is for me.
I envy them just a little. It seems that dictating a novel is a game for the young (writer).
Tracy Cooper-Posey writes vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. After a decade of legacy publishing, she switched to indie publishing has released over 65 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book of the Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Faring Soul was awarded a SFR Galaxy Award in 2015. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com.