Writing and Publishing

Using Dictation Software to Write Fiction

Speaking your punctuation when dictating slows you down, but it is possible to do

So far I’ve only used dictation to write nonfiction. My next step is fiction. This becomes a little bit more complex because we must speak our punctuation. And dialogue requires much more of it.

For example, here is how I would speak a line of dialogue when using dictation software. (To make this display for you correctly, I will pause the dictation and type this out.)

Here’s what I would say:

“Open quote would you look at that question mark closed quote she asked period”

This would result in the following appearing on my computer monitor:

“Would you look at that?” She asked.

If you never tried dictation, I’m sure this seems convoluted to you. However, I recommend starting with easier things that only require basic punctuation, such as periods, exclamation points, question marks, and commas.

The sentence-ending punctuation came to me quite easily, and I mastered them within a few minutes. However, for commas. I needed some practice before I could remember to speak to them.

Using parentheses, quotation marks, hyphens, and dashes require a bit more thought and a lot more focus. However, with practice, these things almost become second nature, and over time they can begin to flow with ease.

However, I recommend starting with the basic commands and then gradually adding others as you become comfortable writing using dictation. Of course, if something doesn’t display as you intend, you can always fix it in the editing phase.

Although you can use dictation software to edit your work, too, I don’t recommend it. In fact, I’ve never heard any writer who did. They use dictation to create their first draft and then go old school by placing their hands on the keyboard. However, the knowledge that you can use dictation software to edit your work will give some writers a cause for celebration, because typing is either difficult for them or impossible. Being able to control their computer with their voice will empower them to write with greater ease.

Editing aside, I encourage anyone who writes a lot or is serious about writing faster to give dictation a try. I suspect that, like me, you will quickly embrace it is a key technological tool you won’t want to do without.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

6 replies on “Using Dictation Software to Write Fiction”

I took your advice. I just received my Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home 13.0, an instruction book, and head gear! I chose the home version because it was less expensive just to try it out. After reading the book, I’m a little afraid to download it and start. Wish me luck! Thanks.

Patti, yes, i understand. I installed mine right away and then took a couple months to actually try it. I so wanted to use it the right way that I was paralyzed into inaction. Looking back I wished I had just installed it and started using it the same day. I wish you the best!

Thanks Peter, I have used dragon for a while but never got the hang of punctuation with it so I put it in manually. Your explanation really helps.

Hi Peter I read your article on healthy writing and noticed you mentioned eyestrain and glare…don’t know if it might help you but for me a matte black monitor screen was a lifesaver. I do digital art as well as writing and need to spend hours in front of a monitor. A few companies offer them eg. Lenovo and Asus, maybe others ..The black matte screen completely eliminated both the glare and eyestrain, and has increased productivity greatly. Thanks to your help I am again using Dragon and your tips on punctuation… you are right there is a learning curve….but so worth it. Best wishes for your success.

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