Monday, August 14, 2017

Mental Can Openers & Writer's Hash ~He Was So Fantasy Minded He Was No Technical Good

 Brad Leach brings us another cool and maybe even mind bending post...read on.

Many of you may remember from the television or movies where some individual dictates while a typewriter magically clicks away taking down every word. Some of you may think of the movie, The Bishop’s Wife with David Niven and Cary Grant. Grant plays an angel who, at one point in the film, dictates a Christmas sermon. I think of the original Star Trek episode where Gary Seven dictates his mission report to a typewriter. The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie had something similar.
My younger mind eagerly imagined such machinery as typewriters and cars bound to my verbal command. I might helpfully tell the construction crane to go to work or have the nearest vending machine wheel itself over and empty itself of my favorite candy bar (Snickers and Baby Ruth being high on the list.)

Now that I have retired to write, imagine my delight upon learning there is a voice recognition system available to be used in place of typing. While speech recognition has been available for the past 20 years, it’s only recently become refined enough to see a 95% success rate, right from the box. Now the only limit to my “typing speed” is the speed at which my mind can compose sentences. My computing word processor composes even as I speak. I have the power of Gary Seven and an angel combined (well, maybe not quite an angel.)

It must be conceded that the 3% to 5% of errors do need correction, but almost all of the correction can be done verbally. Also, the punctuation must be dictated as part of the sentence. I don’t remember Cary Grant or Gary Seven having to do that! Still, for those who don’t type well or can’t type at all, this rivals the automobile replacing the horse, and a slightly dyslexic horse at that.

My system, Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking, learns as it goes. It can be taught new or unique words and also studies your style of writing so it can better anticipate your word usage. I think of this like those movies where the English butler has learned that the master likes his eggs lightly basted and his bacon crispy. It took a computer, but now there’s something that hangs on my every word.

Now, the bad news. This won’t make you a better writer. It simply makes you faster. So if all you write is junk, you will only be able to write junk very quickly. With this tool helping you, you can quadruple your rejection letters.

The other factor not often considered is that you must compose the sentence in your mind as you wish it to look upon the page. Prattling on a mile a minute without thought leaves you hundreds of minutes needed to edit miles of prattle. I suppose even angels had to think about what they were going to say.

PostScript – this entire blog article was dictated, corrected, and formatted verbally. My fat little fingers never caressed the keyboard. I even had a suave, female, British computer voice named Serena read my article to me for editing purposes. Ah, the life of an angel.

~ Brad


14 comments:

  1. Hi Brad, good to have you, as always. You bring a totally different perspective to this blog :)

    I'm using Dragon as well and it's pretty awesome. I do need to play with it more, but it's so worth the practice.

    Hugs
    L.A.

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    1. Thanks LA. And thanks for once again knocking out a great blog site. Loved the graphics.

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  2. Thanks for the interesting article, Brad! I definitely foresee picking up the Dragon program.

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    1. It definitely helps knocking out the first draft. Besides it's fun.

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  3. Loved your article Brad! You always bring a smile to my face.

    Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen. Sometimes I think there are too few smiles in the world.

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  4. Interesting, Brad! I've been thinking about trying Dragon and this has me even more intrigued!

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    1. Be sure to ask me any questions if you see me around. Happy to give any insights I can.

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  5. Fun article, Brad. Dragon is a boon to many writers. Cheers

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    1. For those of us maxed out at 35 words per minute with a couple of errors to boot, it comes over the hill like the old cavalry unit in those B&W RKO Westerns.

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  6. Brad -- I'm glad to hear that you've tamed the Dragon and now have a servant/slave/whatever at your beck and call.

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    1. Thanks Amanda. So far so good regarding the program and making it work! But deep in my mind's dim recesses a voice whispers, those who play with Dragons get burned....

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    2. But there are good dragons...no burning here, unless you forget to back up :)
      ~LA

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  7. Insightful comments! Personally, I can prattle a hundred miles a minute, so I'll let others fight the dragon and keep my fingers on the keyboard. Kudos for composing the blog with suave Selena.

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