How Did It Go?

Yesterday I blogged about how I planned to experiment with my new text-to-speech program, Dragon Dictate. How did it go? Frustrating at times, but ultimately successful.

I sent myself quite a task, getting a new chapter boos started. I wanted to take a picture book manuscript I had written several years ago and expand it into a chapter book for early to middle grade readers. I called the story Snot Boy after the lead character. It’s definitely a boy’s book. There’s even a cannibal monster called Two Face. The added space of the chapter book format gives me the opportunity to add even more gore and goo than I put in the picture book version.

So how did my initial attempt to use a text-to-speech program for a creative project succeed?

I spent most of the day simply being frustrated. There’s still a lot about the program that I have to learn. I’ve mastered at least the basics of dictation and spelling. Somehow, I still haven’t gotten the hang of the computer commands necessary for editing. Strange things happen when I attempt to copy, delete, and paste.

I didn’t let that upset me too much. The program definitely requires a learning curve. I’ll have to go back and reread the manual and practice using those commands some more.

What really got my goat was my inability to get the story going. My first idea was to open with a kind of prologue, setting the scene on a remote Northwest Coast. I couldn’t get it to work. Everything I wrote sounded pretentious and boring instead of magical. I think I was trying too hard.

In the end I gave up. I went back to my original picture book text and looked for ways to expand the opening paragraphs. This time something clicked. I talked my way over, around, and under the sentences I had originally written. By the time I called it a day I had turned two paragraphs into three pages. More important, I liked the way they read. Dragon Dictate has a button that will let the program read your work back to you. I didn’t make use of that. I can read my own work better than my computer can.

The next task was to move my work from Dragon Dictate’s Notepad window to the first page in the Pages document I was creating. (I must really be a glutton for punishment. I’m trying to learn a new word processing program at the same time that I’m trying to master text-to-speech.) I found that I could select what I’d written, but the Copy command appeared to be dead on arrival. I knew I was doing something wrong, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it was.

In the end, I gave up and called it a day. I selected the text in Notepad and dragged it over to Pages. Not elegant, but it worked.

And rather successfully, I think. I managed to get a new book started, and I didn’t end up screaming at the computer or smashing anything in an irrational rage, which is my usual reaction when computers don’t work.

Good job, Eric! So now I think I’m going to select this text which I’ve just dictated and drag it over to the WordPress window to post on my blog.

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