On Writing – Naturally Speaking

I ran across a great deal on Dragon Naturally Speaking software recently. Well, it was a great deal for anyone willing to buy a brand new, never opened copy of Version 12 (basic with headphones) now that version 13 is out. It’s the software that’s advertised as, “You talk, it types.”

I write a lot. Novels are just my latest venture. As a productive writer, I’m always interested in programs that will make my life easier. I’ve been intrigued by the concept of speech to text software and I’ve wanted to give it a try but the price tag for a professional level program is cost prohibitive at several hundred dollars or more depending on the bells and whistles included.

After doing some research, I realized the basic/home versions of the software would probably do what I needed to be able to do. I just want something that will type straight text as I think up stuff for my newest commissioned articles and for my latest novel. I don’t need the latest software on the market or the pro level of any of the offerings out there. When I saw that Dragon Naturally Speaking was available for under $20.00 with the headphones/microphone, I was sold.

Dragon is supposed to be 99% accurate out of the box if you set up an honest profile and you do the training so it learns your voice and speech patterns. I had hopes for the software.Tuesdays are a very slow day at work for me so I hauled my laptop in with me today and let my new software toy download while I took care of the business of my employer. I have to say, it seemed to take forever for Dragon to install . I’m used to 300 page Kindle books loading on my iPad at the speed of light. Thirty plus minutes for software to do an initial install is a long time. I was leery from go.

Once it was installed and in between customers, I set up my user profile. That seemed pretty straightforward. After that, it was time to talk. Though it was dead quiet in my office and I was speaking an inch from the mic, as recommended, at my normal speaking volume level, the software had trouble “hearing” me. Strike two. Eventually, it told me my profile was complete. I was off to the tutorial.

The first couple of tutorial screens were no problem. After them, BIG PROBLEM. The software again couldn’t hear me. My mike setup was brand new out of their packaging so I’m not sure what the issue is there. Skype works just fine with my cheap little computer mike…this thing is supposed to be better than that! Strike three but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt.

I finally got through the tutorial and booted up Word. I attempted to add some text to my latest book. The software that was again struggling to hear me so I began to talk louder than normal everyday volume. Then, it had no problem hearing but the text it typed wasn’t anything remotely close to what I was telling it. For example, my character “Mel” had her name typed as “now”. I realize that those can sound the same to some ears but I was enunciating clearly and I had to correct this several times. The software that’s supposed to learn wasn’t learning. Oh, but if that were the only problem…

I’m frustrated right now but I’m going to keep working with Dragon and see if it can possibly become a useful tool for me. I’d love to know what others have experienced with this software. If you’ve used it, please share your thoughts.


About Anne Hagan

I'm an East Central Ohio based government employee by day and a fiction author by night. I specialize in mystery fiction featuring lesbian sleuths and cozy fiction featuring women sleuths. I also dabble in romance especially romantic lesfic. I live with my wife and our dogs in a tiny town that’s even smaller than the Morelville of my first fiction series and we wouldn't have it any other way. My wife grew up here and she has always called this little village home. Though it’s an ultra-conservative rural community, we're surrounded here by family, longtime friends and many other wonderful people with open hearts and minds. My wife and I are the co-owners of a commercial haunted house: Hagan's House of Horrors. Much as my dream has always been to write fiction, hers has been to create it through the medium of horror. We went full commercial in 2015. Watch us as we grow!
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