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Help for writing in English

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Sarah.moore, Sep 9, 2020.

  1. Sarah.moore

    Sarah.moore Dreamer

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    Hi there
    I just start writing a fantasy book in English but English isn't my native language , i can speak and understand English pretty well but writing a book is a whole different thing and I'm not sure how to improve my writing ability and style to be good enough .
    So can anyone help me with this ?
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  2. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Practice, practice, practice. Sorry to say it, but with learning languages there's little more you can do than immerse yourself in it. That being said, why do you want to write an english-language book? If you feel more comfortable writing in your native language, why not simply write a fantasy book in that language?
     
  3. Karlin

    Karlin Acolyte

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    I'd ask "why write in English?", but I assume you have your reasons. As a point of encouragement, I'll mention that Joseph Conrad, who wrote novels that are considered classics today, wrote in English- but he was actually Polish. So it is doable. Do you read a lot in English? That would seem to be a first step to me.
     
  4. Sarah.moore

    Sarah.moore Dreamer

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    thanks very much for the encouragement . I have several reasons for doing so but the main one would be that in my own language and country fantasy doesn't count as a serious genre for books its kinda only for children thing even the best ones that been translated and things are even worth for the local fantasy writers . And yes i read a lots and lots of English books .
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  5. Sarah.moore

    Sarah.moore Dreamer

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    thanks very much . I have several reasons for doing so but the main one would be that in my own language and country fantasy doesn't count as a serious genre for books its kinda only for children thing even the best ones that been translated and things are even worth for the local fantasy writers
     
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  6. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    That is a shame. You could perhaps try writing in your own language anyways, but translating it later on once you are satisfied with a chapter. This way you ensure that you get a coherent story written without additional stress. It will take longer, but it might be worthwhile if you are not yet confident enough in your English writing skills.
     
    Sarah.moore likes this.
  7. Sarah.moore

    Sarah.moore Dreamer

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    It really is . Thanks that's actually a very good idea and taking more time is not a problem cause it's worth it at the end . And if i can find someone to do some checking on the translated version for then that would be great
     
    Ban likes this.
  8. I write in English while my native tongue is dutch. And while my novel isn't out yet, I think it's pretty decent. At least you couldn't tell it was written by a non-native speaker. It helps that I grew up in an international environment where I spoke English with my closest childhood friends and that I travelled Australia for a year.

    A few things you can do to improve.
    - Read a lot and write a lot. This is good generic writing advice of course. But it helps to practise the language.
    - When you watch tv/movies (or play computer games or whatever), do so in english. Same as with reading, it familiarises you with the language and how it is spoken.
    - Meet English speaking people
    - study the language. While grammar is boring, it's very useful to know how to write correct if you don't have the intuition that comes with being a native speaker.
     
    Sarah.moore likes this.
  9. Sarah.moore

    Sarah.moore Dreamer

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    Thanks a lot for your advice . I surely will do so
     
  10. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    A few years back, I wrote this article for the blog here on Mythic Scribes:
    Writing In a Foreign Language - Like English

    Other than what's mentioned there, I'll echo what's been said above. Read a lot. Then read some more. It's how you get a feel for the language and how you get comfortable with the words and how they flow.

    I also have one piece of practical advice - and this goes for native English speakers too: only use words you're really good friends with.

    It's not uncommon, especially among fantasy writers just starting out, to want to use big complicated words in order to write beautiful evocative prose.
    It never works.
    Okay, in fairness, it works sometimes, but more often, it doesn't - even among native English speakers.

    Using the wrong word will breaker reader immersion in much the same way as a car alarm going off down in the street outside. It's better to avoid it. Here, you actually have an advantage as a non-native English speaker. You're more aware of your limitations, and you're more likely to notice when you're uncertain about how to express something.
    This in turn will also help you hone your craft. Your vocabulary will be more limited, which means you'll have to learn to use the words you have more efficiently.

    So, don't give up on writing in English. Just be aware of your limitations, keep practicing, and read a lot.
     
  11. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Just sayin... if you did not say so, i am not sure i would know from your forum posts that this was true.
     
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  12. Sarah.moore

    Sarah.moore Dreamer

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    I read your article it was so great and had some really nice points . So thanks a lot for both the article and your advises . It's really nice to know that there are some people out there who did the same thing as I'm going to do and were successful at it
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  13. Sarah.moore

    Sarah.moore Dreamer

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    Thank you so much for saying so . It really gave me more confident♡
     
    Malik likes this.
  14. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I've pointed this out on social media before, but Nils writes in English with a fluidity and command of phrasing that make me, an American-born college English major, professional writer and lecturer, and son of a romance author, drink heavily and wonder if I'm in the right line of work. Heed his advice. Also, read his stuff.
     
    A. E. Lowan, Svrtnsse and Sarah.moore like this.
  15. It's a great article and it matches my experience very well.

    I think the "feeling" of a word is the biggest thing to watch out for, since it's so hidden and it's not something you can learn from a dictionary definition. I notice this especially in swear words (or other words with strong emotional meanings). For me, swear words in english have no feeling attached to them. I know what they mean, but that doesn't tell me which one to use in which situation. That's because it's a very cultural thing (and subject to change). I could easily use very rude words and offend someone without indending to, simply because of this feeling.

    So, I have to use swear words very consiously. Over the years I've learned how people feel about certain words and I sort of know which one to use when. But I need to think about it, since I don't have that intuition.

    As for a thesaurus (and a dictionary), for me there are two sides to it. Don't use it to find expensive words which will just make your writing look silly. However, I do use it to find the right word. When polishing, I will sometimes look up one or two words to get the exact meaning so I can use the right one for that situation.
     
    Sarah.moore likes this.
  16. With all the great advice above, one thing I'd like to throw in is that it would not be unheard of to have your English prose edited to round it into a more fluid finished product where needed. There's been a large push in the sci fi community towards translating stories authored by Chinese writers and, of course, much of it is translated from the regional dialects (Mandarin, Cantonese etc) , but that translation must then also be rewritten somewhat to a more fluid English form as those translations, word for word, are never simple or smooth. It does seem you would need far less of that sort of editing given the command of your English as displayed here but it's certainly possible to do so. You might find someone you can trust to understand your intent and help bring it forward a bit more in the English prose language IF you discover your command of the language lacking in any way. I'd imagine this would be mostly small tweaks, not major rewrites. :)
     
    Sarah.moore likes this.
  17. S J Lee

    S J Lee Troubadour

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    There is no simple "this is what you should do " tactic, because it will depend on how good your English already is, what kind of mistakes you make, how complex your writing is supposed to be. Just write a sample and slap it up. We'll soon spot what weaknesses you have, if any. Adjust based on the feedback. Your English seems reasonably good so you have a good chance of something good?

    FWIW I teach English to adults to all levels of ability ... might be able to give some advice when I see a sample...
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
    Sarah.moore likes this.
  18. Sarah.moore

    Sarah.moore Dreamer

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    Thank you so much . As soon as i finish my chapter one i will do so .:)
     
  19. S J Lee

    S J Lee Troubadour

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    Remember that sometimes fiction allows us to break rules of grammar.

    "Kal slouched into the saloon, holstered guns a-jingling. One gold, one silver. Unlike the bullets." --> this has at least two "sentence fragments," but I think it is accpetable...?
     
    Sarah.moore likes this.
  20. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    *waggles hand* I like it and I like the imagery, but it could be stronger. Maybe something closer to this...

    "Kal slouched into the saloon, holstered guns a-jingling. One gold, one silver - unlike the bullets."

    See how it not only binds those two sentence fragments more tightly together, but it also highlights the whole point of the image you're creating, making it stronger?
     
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