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March 21, 2006

Summary of Harris' "Composing Behaviors of One-and Multi -draft Writers"

According to Harris there are basically two kinds of writers; the one-drafter and the multi-drafter. Harris reviews previous studies about the matter, but in order “to draw a more inclusive picture of composing behaviors for considering the pedagogical implications of dealing with individual differences,? he had to make his own study. The subjects of his study were experienced writers who identified themselves as definitely one or multi-drafters. Harris observed them composing. He found that the one-drafters expressed a strong need to clarify their thinking prior to beginning to transcribe, there were a little resorting of written notes and little use of written outlines. In contrast the multi-drafters’ preference was for open ended exploration as they write. One-drafters generated fewer choices, reach decisions more quickly and before transcribing to paper. Harris also found that the early drafts of one-drafters are reader based, while multi-drafters’ are writer based.
Harris concludes that both ways of writing have disadvantages or “costs?. “One -drafters are in danger of cutting themselves off from further exploration from a richer field of discovery than is possible during the time in which they generate options.?(66) Multi-drafters often miss deadlines, create writer-based first drafts, produce large quantities of text that is discarded and get lose in their own writing. Harris explains how teachers can assist students with some strategies, and help them become more aware of their composing behaviors. Harris also states that teachers should not impose personal preferences.