Richard Powers, and story dictation

Richard Powers won the National Book Award yesterday for The Echo Maker (excerpted here). Earlier in the week, he told Wired magazine that he wrote the book using voice recognition software.

I’ve always wanted the freedom to be completely disembodied when I’m writing, to feel as if I’m in a pure compositional state. Typing is a highly unnatural activity, and your writing style ends up reflecting the cognitive shackles. When I started to use the tablet, things that are extremely difficult to do on a word processor opened up to me. I could also make drawings to see what a character looked like, and these sketches would be integrated into my research. Part of the mystery of The Echo Maker hinges upon what happened on a certain stretch of road on the night of the accident. I figured that out visually by drawing the scene over and over and seeing how all the elements moved in relationship to one another.

I was already curious to read The Echo Maker, but now I’ve got to get my hands on a copy. Recently I’ve been thinking about the resurgence of oral storytelling — I was largely sheltered from TV as a child and am a late convert — and wondering what, if anything, it means for the novel in the Internet age. And now here’s a writer dictating his book to a computer.

For more on Powers, go here. and here. (Wired link via The Elegant Variation; image taken from this site.)


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