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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

Recording Stories with Speech Recognition Software

Nan Barnes

Recently I have been corresponding with a blog reader, Edward, who has a lot of experience with recording his stories digitally. We both have used the prominent speech recognition software, Dragon Naturally Speaking. It seems like the perfect solution if you’re hoping to evade the onerous task of writing a book. Dragon has two modes: one in which you dictate with a microphone and it types as you speak, and another mode that transcribes audio files you have loaded from your handheld recorder.

I sent Edward this excerpt, among others, from my book, Stories To Tell: A Guide to Self Publishing.

“Another way to dictate into the computer is a software program called Dragon Naturally Speaking, which converts your speech to text. Unfortunately, this technology is not flawless. If you do decide to purchase this software, we offer this advice from long experience: edit the text immediately after recording. There is often an unintelligible gap between what you said and what was typed, and it is difficult to remember later what you meant to say. With practice and cautious, clear enunciation, Dragon Naturally Speaking can be a very helpful tool.”

Edward replied to me:

“I am somewhat ambivalent about Dragon. On the one hand, it eliminates the necessity of transcription, whether by me or someone else, but it is not as natural as I would like. If I become as informal in speaking as story telling really is for me “around the dining room table”, as you suggest, then my voice becomes less disciplined for the requirements of Dragon and my error rate increases. The necessity of remaining consciousness enough to speak properly for Dragon seems at times to detract from speaking naturally….a paradox, since it is called “Dragon Naturally Speaking”. At times, it is not “Naturally Speaking” enough for me. I think I sometimes use Dragon less than I might for that reason. As you say, it requires “practice and cautious, clear enunciation”, which isn’t necessarily conducive to relaxed, spontaneous story telling.”

Edward and I also compared our versions of Dragon Naturally Speaking. (He has version 8, I have version 10, and yet we both struggle with inaccurate transcription when we speak "too naturally".) The manufacturer, Nuance, has recently released an updated version 11, which is advertised to have better speech recognition than ever before (a promise they have made repeatedly, in each previous issue.)

What do you think about using speech recognition software? Have you tried Dragon Naturally Speaking, and has it worked well for you?