Monday, 19 November 2012

All women like cats


I'm too busy editing to do a proper blog post this week. Furious typing has led to a pall of smoke separating me from my screen. My fingers are burning, man! Let me just dip them in this glass of water... [Hissss.] Excellent, cooled down now. Talking of hisses, I'll post an extract from the novel I'm working on. With some luck and lots of water it should be available in December, and I'll hopefully give some talks once it is launched, details will appear here. On with the show. Alex is the novel's protagonist and has just split up with his girlfriend. Then he stayed in the pub, drank a lot of beer and decided it could only be a good idea to try and win her back the same day. What could go wrong with any plan that you come up with when inebriated? Nothing, I say to you sir; absolutely nothing at all.


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Monday, 12 November 2012

Speech recognition software and writing

Speech recognition software automatically transcribes digital text from spoken voice, with over 90% accuracy in ideal conditions. It can save time typing, and also helps to cut back on repetitive motions, lowering the risk of RSI or easing it if you have it already. Once trained to your voice the software is much faster than typing, even when you consider the time spent making corrections (many of which can be done on the fly using voice input, which further trains the software and improves its accuracy in the future).

There are two main scenarios in which I've used it:

  1. Sat at my PC, using a microphone to open and close programs, type in text etc. I can then sit there and 'write' just by speaking. Not only is it quicker, but it taps into a different type of creativity - by speaking and letting it flow I find that I am applying less conscious control than when I write normally, a chance to let surprising word combinations come out. I can also sit back, eyes closed, picture the scene and talk away, describing what I see and translating the imaginary scenes into spoken words.
  2. I've written about 'snippets'* before. These are files on my PC that store fragmented sensations, ideas, word plays, descriptions and so on. Often these occur to me on the move. In some cases I jot them in a notebook to type up later, but when walking along that's not convenient, so instead I record the thoughts as audio files on my smartphone. Then when I get home I have to type them up (requiring multiple passes, since the speaking is faster than my typing!). Using audio transcription software to turn them into text documents is much quicker.
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Monday, 5 November 2012

New Writers’ Village story contest


A first prize of £500 can be won in the winter round of the Writers’ Village contest for short fiction up to 3000 words in any genre. Second prize is £250, third is £100 and there are five runner-up prizes of a free entry in the next round. Every story entered also gains a free critique, a feature I enjoyed when I entered my own stories. Winning stories will be showcased at the site. Fee is £12 per story. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Deadline is 31st December 2012. You'll find details of the competition here.
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