Thursday, 7 July 2011

Roles of a Writer

We call it the 'craft of writing'. Wait, what do writing and crafting have in common? Well, I say they both are hard works. Writing-no matter how simple it appeals to be to many-is a complicated discourse which creates its own writers' community of different strata according to their roles in writing. Only through a strong grasp of linguistic knowledge, can a writer use language effectively to deliver crystal-clear messages.

There are four simple roles of a writer, in a model presented by Freebody and Luke (1990) as in Campbell & Green (2006) which are:

  1. Code breaker
  2. Text user
  3. Text participant
  4. Text analyst

A language learner specially developing in the area of writing goes through the stages, one by one from code breaker to text analyst. Completing the succession, one can successfully move to a higher stage by mastering the former.

Code Breaker
The knowledge of word spelling according to its morphemes and phonemes, using appropriate word arrangement to form sentences and any knowledge of how to simply write to convey message is the first stage called 'code breaking'. The ability to master this stage makes a writer, a code breaker.

Text User
Once the basic knowledge of how language functions is acquired by a writer, what's next is using certain types of text to meet particular purposes. Whether you realize it or not, while you write a letter to a friend telling that you're coming for a visit or sending an e-mail for job application-and oh-even writing a blog entry about 'Roles of a Writer' to be read by English Language learners-you adjust the way you put your words so they suit the purpose of your writing thus can easily be understood by your target reader(s). That is what text users like you and me do!

Text Participant
Well normally, we do many involuntary actions every day without even realising that we are-for instance, breathing. In the same note, we make meaning of texts as we read without realising it. Meaning-making involves reading a text in own's voice, taking a stand on a discussed issue, considering other participants' points of view on the text, and making sense of every aspect of the text, from its notion to coherence and everything in between, you name it.

Text Analyst
One out of a million of brilliant things about language is that-as subjective as it can be, language can also be analysed to trace evidences of patterns that can point out the purposes of a particular text through the way words are put together to form sentences, the type of tense used, type of speech function, how many times does a certain pattern repeat, and any other observable attributes of a text. Pondering on how a text they write might affect their surrounding is a huge matter text analysts deal with, through revision of the text structure.

Well those are the four roles of a writer, and here, I'd like to share my personal experience of experiencing the transition while analysing a transcription of Julia Gillard's speech. As I move on from reading the transcription to really scrutinising its characteristics, there is joy in noticing how complex, manipulative, and wonderful a text can be. The transition from breaking the code of language to using it, participating in it and finally analysing it, allows us not only to use language to say "Get yours today" in a commercial advertisement and not get a single customer at all, but to be highly expressive in choice of word to exhibit emotions, be transparent to prove reliability, be provocative to persuade, and in short, anything you want your message to cause people to think and do!