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Title: Discovery writing and genre
Author: Heeks, Richard James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2744 1113
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2012
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This study approaches ‘discovery writing’ in relation to genre, investigating whether different genres of writing might be associated with different kinds of writing processes. Discovery writing can be thought of as writing to find out what you think, and represents a reversal of the more usual sense that ideas precede writing, or that planning should precede writing. Discovery writing has previously been approached in terms of writers’ orientations, such as whether writers are Planners or Discoverers. This study engages with these previous theories, but places an emphasis on genres of writing, and on textual features, such as how writers write fictional characters, or how writers generate arguments when writing essays. The two main types of writing investigated are fiction writing and academic writing. Particular genres include short stories, crime novels, academic articles, and student essays. 11 writers were interviewed, ranging from professional fiction authors to undergraduate students. Interviews were based on a recent piece of a writer’s own writing. Most of the writers came from a literary background, being either fiction writers or Literature students. Interviews were based on set questions, but also allowed writers to describe their writing largely in their own terms and to describe aspects of their writing that interested them. A key aspect of this approach was that of engaging writers in their own interests, from where interview questions could provide a basis for discussion. Fiction writing seemed characterized by emergent processes, where writers experienced real life events and channelled their experiences and feelings into stories. The writing of characters was often associated with discovery. A key finding for fiction writing was that even writers who planned heavily and identified themselves somewhat as Planners, also tended to discover more about their characters when writing. Academic writing was characterized by difficulty, where discovery was often described in relation to struggling to summarize arguments or with finding key words. A key conclusion from this study is that writers may be Planners or Discoverers by orientation, as previous theory has recognised. However, the things that writers plan and discover, such as plots and characters, also play an important role in their writing processes.
Supervisor: Jones, Susan; Myhill, Debra Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: discovery ; writing ; genre ; fiction ; academic ; essay ; process