Posted in Self-publishing, Writing

Training My Dragon (Dragon Voice Recognition Software, That Is)

Picture of a dragon reading a book
How I’m training my Dragon

A post about my new toy: voice recognition software

As a multi-tasking, overloaded author who still hasn’t mastered the art of saying “no”, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my productivity and time management.

Recently I was introduced by my author friend Orna Ross, founder and director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, to a new way of squeezing more words out of each day: using voice recognition software.

To my amusement and delight, the software she recommended is known as “Dragon”, manufactured by Nuance, and to increase its (already impressive) accuracy, you are encouraged to “train” it. The training consists of reading specific extracts of text to help it get used to your voice.

I’m still at the early stages of using Dragon (and also a free speech recognition programme that was included with my other new toy – how spoiled am I? – my tablet). But I have to say it’s great fun, and much more reliable than whatever they use to produce the subtitles on news programmes, which are always full of amusing errors. To be fair, part of the problem there may be that the software has to respond to an ever-changing variety of voices and accents, rather than acclimatizing to one.

Not Just for Authors

Voice recognition software is useful not only to authors, but to anyone who types a lot of text on computers – business letters, blog posts, emails, even social media updates. If you’d like to find out more about it, you may like to read the blog post I’ve just written in my capacity as Commissioning Editor for the Alliance of Independent Authors on their blog of self-publishing advice here:

Rather pleasingly, when I was first starting to use Dragon, it interpreted the name “Orna Ross” as “Order Rocks” – and I’m hoping that now that I’ve mastered it, order will indeed rock, in my study, if not throughout the house.


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

8 thoughts on “Training My Dragon (Dragon Voice Recognition Software, That Is)

  1. Debbie, I also have a Dragon in my machine now too, but like many of my pets, it is not that well trained as yet. In fact, it’s still writing the most ridiculous nonsense in certain circumstances. (actually, “certain circumstances” may well be a combo that would cause it to breathe fire and collapse) It’s applying an Australian accent filter, but is probably expecting me to talk like Crocodile Dundee, and therefore confused by what it hears.

    I’ve done several of the reading scripts, but may well need to *actually read the instructions* (haha) as to how to correct its scribblings in such a way that it learns.

    I’m excited by the possibilities though, as I find that sometimes talking out loud gets me around writer’s block. I also like the idea that I can stroll around the countryside with my iPhone voice recorder in hand, then take it home and get my Dragon to transcribe it. I haven’t yet actually done that, just dreamed about it.

    Mine currently won’t work in Word, oddly enough, but is fine in Scrivener. (A discerning Dragon??)

    Looking forward to your tips as you get it under control.

    1. That’s interesting, Belinda – my Dragon works in Word. Another way to help train it is to allow it to read your existing documents so that it gets used to your vocabulary and any specialist words. I’ve unleashed it on a handful of documents and it picked up 300 new words, which surprised me, as it had already instantly recognised some unusual words that I’d have thought tricky.

      Interesting that it likes Crocodile Dundee style accents – are Dragons related to Crocodiles in some way? 😉

      I suspect it’s the same as with any other software – the more you use it, the easier it gets, until you wake up one day and realise you’re using it effortlessly, without having realised how much you/it has learned!

      1. I hadn’t thought of the solidarity between crocs and dragons. That’s obviously the answer. Well spotted. 😉

        There’s some sort of software clash between the version of Dragon Dictate I’ve got and my version of Word for Mac. I’ve googled it and the possible solutions gave me a headache, so I just use it in Scrivener for now till I’ve got Time To Deal With It.

  2. Marissa used it before she could type. The earlier version forgot and had to be trained quite a lot. We got to read terry prachet to train it 🙂

    1. I’ll keep you posted, Laura! I’m planning to use it for a couple of new projects – writing some non-fiction books, for which the text is in my head and I just have to get it out there somehow! Not creative writing as such, more of a brain dump. Fingers crossed…

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