Date of Award

12-20-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Claude Mark Hurlbert, DA

Second Advisor

Lilia Savova, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study compared the creative-writing processes of native English speakers (NES) composing for a real audience in two conditions: one group composing in their native language (NL) and the other group composing in French as a foreign language (FFL). Both groups wrote children’s fiction and were aware that children in the community would read their stories. Participants were observed while composing and interviewed about their writing background, composing behaviors, and the texts produced to determine the effect of a real audience. Similarities emerged in how both groups composed children’s fiction. (1) They constructed their concept of the audience based on experiences within their discourse communities rather than seeking out information about the readers; (2) they did not analyze the potential effect of their texts on their readers; (3) they exhibited motivation based on the fiction genre; (4) they attempted to meet the audience’s needs by including typical features of children’s fiction, selecting an appropriate topic, and making revisions. The comparison indicated that FFL participants transferred what they knew about children’s fiction into their planning, but their lack of language proficiency interfered in their composing process. The FFL writers were most distinct from the NL writers in three ways: (1) Using translation to separate invention from generating text in French; (2) focusing more attention on surface-level errors and making fewer revisions than the NL group; and (3) demonstrating greater awareness of their composing process than the NL participants. This research indicates that creative writing can motivate NL and NNL writers. Furthermore, students need interaction with actual readers rather than the mere knowledge of their existence. Finally, students in NL and NNL writing classes need to analyze the effective and ineffective features of their own composing and features of the creative writing genre. This suggests that an awareness of both process and genre can benefit composing when writing for a non-academic audience.

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