ShadowsPale

Why do we do this?

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my mother tongue is not English.[...] my natural "English" is a mishmash of the two.

I have the same problem. >.>

In response to the OP: you're always writing from some character's perspective, no? So that character's way of talking, and choice of words, should be present throughout. If you let him say "biscuits" but then refer to them as "cookies", you, the author, shines through. You might as well write "I personally disagree, but then Harry said this...".

It's one of the things that makes a story believable, that makes it so much better, when you can feel like you're in the character's head, and for that, all the text has to be written like the character would think it.

I'd even go so far as to say if you have one American and one British character and you jump between their POVs from one paragraph to the next (which I'm very much against, but people do it), then your use of language has to jump every time, too.

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Reading all of this, I understand why its done as it is. However, now I am confused on how to handle things when a story contains more than one nationality. Take a Harry Potter/ Supernatural cross over for example. Would you write it as an American would, keeping Harry's dialogue as British or would you continue writing from a more British point of view; only keeping Sam and Dean's dialogue as American?

No wonder I have such a hard time finishing anything. I keep coming up with more questions I need answers too. >.<

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Take a Harry Potter/ Supernatural cross over for example. Would you write it as an American would, keeping Harry's dialogue as British or would you continue writing from a more British point of view; only keeping Sam and Dean's dialogue as American?

I think it would depend on the POV you're using. If it's completely third person omniscient, then whatever the writer feel more comfortable with will probably flow better. If it's mostly being told from one of the character's POV, then sticking with that character's colloquialisms would work better, but only if the writer is comfortable with that.

Personally, as long as the characters 'sound' right as I read, it isn't a big deal about the rest.

UK vs US spelling always amuses me, being Canadian. We mostly use UK, but there are a few US spellings we use routinely, so it gives my spellcheck fits LOL

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I think it would depend on the POV you're using.

I agree. If it's omniscient, then it's you (the narrator) talking anyway, so you can go with what's natural for you. If you do limited third person, I'd go with what would be natural for that character, and try to switch that if I switch to a different character.

Of course that's subjective; it's entirely possible to pull off a story without worrying about this. But to my mind this would be one of the things that make a good story great.

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I know I must sound dense as hell but every time I turn around, I find something new and confusing about writing. I never realized just how little I knew until i started reading what was said in this forum. Never again will I fuss about the price of a book, I now have a better understand of what a person must know in order to write one. Silly me thought it was just a matter of knowing a lot of words and knowing how to string together sentences, There is a ton of little things you must know, like tenses and POV. Then there is working out a plot line that leaves no holes and seeing that all questions are answered by the end.

Now I am wondering if I should bother trying to write. There is so much that I remain unsure of how to handle and if I am going to put forth all the effort, I want to end up with a product worth reading. Being one of those writer's that pound out story after story without a care to quality isn't something I want to be,

Thank you for all the answers. I am going now to re-read all my half finished stories and try to decide if I should continue to try writing or leave it up to those with more knowledge and skill.

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Before you decide not to write, take a little time to think about why you write.

The gods know, I'm not the world's greatest writer, and I fuss and rewrite and drive myself insane rewording things until I publish because I'm going to over-tinker and scrap the whole damned thing otherwise. And then I agonize over what I published, and if it's utter crap.

But at the end of the day, the stories want OUT and that's why I write. I try to improve, actively, but I won't stop writing while I'm learning.

Knowledge and skill come with time and experience. You'll be fine. :)

Edited by BronxWench

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Before you decide not to write, take a little time to think about why you write.

The gods know, I'm not the world's greatest writer, and I fuss and rewrite and drive myself insane rewording things until I publish because I'm going to over-tinker and scrap the whole damned thing otherwise. And then I agonize over what I published, and if it's utter crap.

But at the end of the day, the stories want OUT and that's why I write. I try to improve, actively, but I won't stop writing while I'm learning.

Knowledge and skill come with time and experience. You'll be fine. :)

I think I could give up food, faster than I could give up writing. When I was younger, I would make up stories to tell anyone that would listen. Then I told stories to the kids I babysat as a teen. After that it was my son and his friends. I ran out of ears about six years ago so I started to write. You're right, good or bad, the stories have to come out. After re-reading some of what I have written in the past, I don't think I am a bad writer, just one that has room for improvement. Now if I could stop second guessing myself and stop the "What if" that pops into my mind every five seconds, I might actually get something finished. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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I am going now to re-read all my half finished stories and try to decide if I should continue to try writing or leave it up to those with more knowledge and skill.

None of that matters if the writing is enjoyable to you. If it is, someone out there will enjoy reading it. One of my favourite fanfic authors is not a native English speaker and it shows in her grammar and some of the odd substitutions she uses. But the sheer power of the emotion in her writing, because she is so passionate about the stories, keeps me coming back for more.

Whereas some with wonderful grammar, POV, etc. don't pull me in at all.

Just have fun!

Edited by cowgirl65

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I'm not an English-speaking native - my native language is French. It's what I grew up in, and I know it affects my use of English. Especially if I work when I'm tired, whereas my translations are sometimes done word-by-word and thus completely unidiomatic *facepalm*. But I have a beta for it, and she knows what to look for XD. I use awkward syntax at times too, and I know I sub prepositions for others at time. Overall though, I don't think my English is horrible. I've had many, many comments how I have a nearly perfect American accent... while other people know de facto I'm a Quebecer (back when I was working for Bell Canada, some English-speaking clients *fucking hated it*).

I try hard to keep to my stories' context. Example: I'm currently working in a Viking age setting. I've had to adjust to the dynamics, the areas, what pushed their berserker buttons (literally!) and thus, the slang. I'm dealing with gay main characters, but I can't exactly use "gay", "homosexual" and other modern slang, at least in dialogue. Even during narration I'll opt for other words, because I don't wanna break the context for my readers. The concept of homosexuality was known, but not as we know it today; for instance, they made a clear difference between passive/bottom and aggressive/top. It's what I'll be using a lot more soon, especially since their personalities is tied up to those concepts.

I think it can be both easier and harder if your native language isn't English. I work in localization - this is the exact job I have: to make sure the translations are suited for the target, located in a different area, speaking in a different language, can relate to the context. Yeah, you can talk about George W. Bush and Clinton here in Quebec, and people will relate. But it'll be twenty times more effective if you refer to Jean Chrétien (ex Canadian Prime Minister) or Jean Charest (current Quebec Prime Minister). This is why I love the Quebec version of The Simpsons, because it uses both foreign and local references... at the right time. It's balanced.

As for spelling... well personally I go with American English even if I'm Canadian. I don't have a defined target audience, and the differences between American and Canadian English is mostly that we use some UK spellings. So grey/gray... I'll try to get set on ONE variant, otherwise I'm comfortable writing both. I think they actually vary within my stories. It's something I can pick up on my own, because inconsistencies get to me. So if they're consistently spelled one way in the series, I won't even notice it. But I'll notice if "colour" is used once when "color" is used throughout the chapter or story.

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Guest Robin_Mask

I thought I'd reply to add a quick question of my own: what do you when the story is set in a foreign land and/or with a multi-cultural cast?

I'm currently finishing off a story set in Japan about a group of foreigners, each from a different country of origin. My main problem is that my main character speaks American English and the story is set from his perspective, albeit third-person limited. I thought - going through the editing process - that it seems strange that a character who speaks American English would then switch to British English in the prose descriptions, but as the descriptions are third-person I wondered if I could get away to switching to British, being that I'm a British author . . .

My concern is that I might confuse some readers, not because I'm using British or American in specific, but because there's a mixture of both in the same story.

Would the segregation of the two according to dialogue/prose be okay, or should I change the description to be American English to match the dialogue?

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If you're writing in third person, I would honestly say to do the prose descriptions in what you're most comfortable with, which in this case is British English. There are so many published authors who are British, who write prose descriptions and narrative in British English, and then do dialogue in whatever idiom is appropriate for the character. As a reader, I've never found it the least bit jarring, as long as it's consistent. :)

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