Date of Award

Spring 1991

Project Type


Program or Major

Reading and Writing Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Thomas Newkirk


To describe his process of creation, the author analyzes the journal he kept in conjunction with writing a young adult novel. Each day he wrote fiction, he used a journal to document his writing and thinking processes, invention strategies, and creation dilemmas. The author examined his planning techniques, his use of visualization and detail, the role that reading played in his writing, and the influence of people and autobiographical experience. He found that some of his most productive planning and thinking were done while away from his writing room, not consciously thinking about the novel-in-progress until ideas suddenly occurred to him. This impromptu planning was made accessible to him by his habit of note taking. Visual thinking played a significant role in his fiction writing, generating language, further images, and conceptualizations. The specific detail of images and language enabled him to develop characters, extend plot, discover symbols, and render the story dramatically without exposition. A particular way of reading his own fictional texts affected his revision strategies, and reading the texts of others influenced the content, figurative language, and diction of his writing. His creation of the novel was affected by people, those whom he had normal traffic with during the course of a day, and those who read and responded to his fictional text. Of particular help was a mentor, Donald M. Murray, whom he met with for an hour each week. Most influential of the mentor's suggestions, advice, and directives was an emphasis on dramatic action and tension. Half the study is devoted to a discussion of the role that autobiographical experience played in this creation of a fictional dream. The author found that his autobiographical experience both hindered and sustained his writing of fiction, sometimes limiting its scope, but more often validating the author's experience and providing images, emotions, and memories of people, places, and events that were crucial to writing the novel.