Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Peter Duval, M.F.A.

Committee Member

Kristine Ervin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tim Dougherty, Ph.D.


This thesis consists of the first fifty-four pages of a full-length novel. It is intended to function as the first act of a four-act story, and therefore its primary goal is to set up and facilitate conflict and character development in later acts. I have chosen four acts over the traditional three act structure in order to further develop the central mystery and allow for slower, more nuanced character development. This thesis aspires to act as the foundation upon which a multifaceted narrative, containing both a compelling story and a meaningful message, can be told.

The premise of the novel is that a twenty-one-year-old college student secretly drops out of his university and returns to his hometown. He lacks any direction in life, which manifests as a supernatural form of insomnia: he cannot sleep, but there are no medical repercussions. This inability to sleep is tied into a larger theme in the novel, that of “dreams.” The protagonist has no dreams for his future, and therefore is literally incapable of dreaming. The surface level conflict involves the protagonist and supporting characters uncovering the plot of a cult that is summoning an inter-dimensional dream-eating monster in order to harvest the “aspirational energy” of the town’s inhabitants. The underlying conflict taking place in each of the main characters is between their desire to take the first step toward a happy and meaningful life, and the world which falsely asserts that these goals are inextricably tied to finding the perfect career.

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