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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Hobart

The Great Dictator

Zoom audio recorder and dictaphone resting on sound insulation.
Too busy to write? Dictate your way to a novel AND give narrators an audio template

I owe you an apology. It's been some time since I added a blog post. Consider my wrist truly slapped. I've been ridiculously busy in truth, not least because I have returned to the day job full-time.

However, I'm still fully committed to building an alternative career in narration and voice over, as well as writing two novels as well. As I write that, I think I must be mad, but I don't have to work hard to see that there is a rationale behind all this.

Increasingly I can see that these activities are complimentary and serve to support each other. Not just in the sense that they all add to the multiple streams of income I'm establishing, but also creatively. The more I narrate, the better the author I become. The more I write, the more skilled and subtle my narration becomes.

As I work with such terrific authors as Adam Croft, Gordon Doherty, and Alison Kervin, I learn so much. Structure, pacing, characterisation, and action hints and tips soak into me as I try to do justice to their words and characters. All three are tremendously successful and have built loyal followings in recent years, and that is my aim as a writer too.

Last week I attended the London Book Fair for the first time. I have to confess it was a one-way ticket to imposter syndrome, with the bewilderingly huge stands housing the mega-publishers, down to tiny booths with niche companies specialising in every subject you could imagine. Add to that the vast crowds it was pretty overwhelming, but I gained a great deal from my visit.

I finally met Adam Croft face-to-face for one. He has made me the voice of his Knight and Culverhouse detective series, the first of which will be available soon. I love his work and also his inspirational story that has seen him become a multi-million best-selling author through a combination of brilliant writing and bold and clever marketing. It's an honour to work with him, and he kindly invited me to make an appearance on his podcast.

The number one take-away is that we can have a piece of the action. I grabbed chats with Adam and three other authors who have made a huge success of self-publishing: between Adam, L J Ross and Mark Dawson they have sold c.7 million books in the past 4 years. They are down to earth, approachable and inspirational, and I left Olympia with renewed confidence that I will one day follow suit.

To that end, I finally dived into the world of dictating my own fiction. I have to say my first efforts at mastering Nuance's Dragon software were laughable. I spoke with the fluency of Professor Stephen Hawking's computer on a flat battery, but in another couple of attempts my speed matched my typing. The trick is to ignore the words it erroneously spews up on the screen, and to plough on as fast as you can. Tidying up is quicker than you would imagine.

It has the great advantage too of allowing you to dictate on the go. I have used my iPhone to capture a scene or a structure idea on the fly for instance. The biggest benefit I have found though is that I can create characters and dialogue far quicker than if I typed it. I enjoy putting on accents and creating voices for imaginary characters. I love finding the cadence and timbre, and this is quickly picked up on the page by Dragon.

So speed, mobility, and creative freedom are all benefits from dictating fiction, but for the narrator there is another one; essentially you are practicing for the studio too - improving diction and fluency and perfecting accents and voices. It's a win/win on every level, and it is a technique that will I believe take me big steps towards my goal of living off my creativity full-time.

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