1. hedonist
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    hedonist New Member

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    Total newbie & confused

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hedonist, Aug 10, 2012.

    Hi everyone,
    I'm new here and new to writing. In fact until a short while ago I didn't really have the desire to take up writing to express myself but some things have been going on in my personal life that made me think that I might have a story to tell.

    Basically here's my dilemma - English is not my native language, as I grew up bilingually, so it is in fact my third language. But for many years now I've been living in an English speaking environment and as such no longer feel comfortable expressing myself in my native languages; only English. I hope that I can effectively write down the story I'm developing currently. However, I worry that I might confuse readers with my language use; in school we learnt British English, but I worry that I was at the time heavily influenced by Hollywood/American TV Dramas and picked up a lot of words & phrases from there. To complicate matters further, I spent some time in Asia - communicating in English with the locals but again a different "flavour" has rubbed off on me. Now I'm in the UK and I assume I will have picked up some more typical vocabulary/slang, some of it without even noticing. In short, now when I meet someone new, they can never quite tell from my accent where I'm from.

    Is this going to be a problem? If so, what do I do about it? Read more books written in the style or setting that I want to emulate for my own story?

    Also, since I never really had an interest in creative writing before, I don't remember anything relevant that we were taught in school. How important is it to follow "the rules"? Having read a certain hugely popular trilogy recently which I found to be quite badly written for various reasons, it seems that things may not be as strict as they once were? Or is that just the famous exception to the rule?

    Thanks for any insights you could give me :) I'm looking forward to hanging out in this forum quite a bit from now on...

    H.
     
  2. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Hello Hedonist! interesting name lol :) Welcome to the forum!

    You definitely sound like you've got a story to tell, what with all the places you've been. I've barely been out of midwestern U.S! I think that all thos different influences would probably enrich your writing, give it color! Some of my favorite authors were not born native speakers. Every language has, like you said, a different flavor, and if you can get some of that across in your writing, I think it would add alot. The only way to know for sure it to try tho!

    I look forward to seeing some of your work!
    Peace!
     
  3. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Your post reads as if you should be able to communicate effectively in English. I would not have recognized that it was your second or third language. You are right to be concerned about the diversity of your background unintentionally bringing in some confusing terms, but it will be solvable. If you can get critique from members of your target audience these minor difficulties will be easy to resolve.

    Your diverse background could be quite valuable in giving you settings, and the ability to recognize and portray the differences in locations, cultures, and manners of speaking.

    The "rules" are, of course, not firm laws but rather a collective wisdom of what most often works. It has been said that you need to know the rules in order to break them intelligently. Deliberate rule-breaking is sometimes effective when it serves a specific purpose. If you don't know that you are breaking a rule, then you probably will not do so effectively.

    Published works sometimes contain examples of poor writing, not just nominal rule-breaking. They may succeed despite those, not because of those.

    If you don't remember much of your instruction on writing, then following this forum (especially critiques) will alert you to many things you should consider. Reading in the genre you plan to write is important, and more effective after you learn what to watch for.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, welcome to the forums!

    i work with many writers to whom english a 2nd/3rd language, so i'm familiar with your problem...

    you should read constantly, books that are published for the readership you wish to target... if you want to be published in the uk, then read works by british/commonwealth authors... if you want to be published in the us, read american novels... that will help you to get your thinking adjusted to the overall language particulars of the target market... in addition, you must consider the setting you've chosen for your novel, since regional dialects and idioms must be gotten right, to make your story and your characters believeable... for that, watching well-written/acted/directed movies can help, if you can't visit the areas for long enough to absorb the way the locals speak and act... reading the scripts for those films is also very helpful, to see the dialog in print...

    very!... till you can follow them perfectly, you can't get away with bending or breaking a few, when such is required for good creative writing...

    almost all of them are, sorry to say... that you can recognize the flaws is a good sign...

    both, i'm afraid... many readers [and thus publishers] aren't sticklers for the rules and the famous are excused from having to follow them by the very fact of being famous...

    hope this helps you some... love and hugs, maia
     
  5. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Mom's right: study, study, study, different writer's novels. Mom suggested a list to me a while ago and reading them helped. Mom is a very good reference on things to read that will help you step forwards in your ability to write.
     
  6. hedonist
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    hedonist New Member

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    Thanks for your very helpful replies!

    To be quite frank I'm not sure where I'm going with this; whether I'm even aiming to be published in the traditional sense or maybe I'll be content using writing as an outlet for myself and just share my work with people via a blog or website. But I have always been a bit of a perfectionist, so if I'm going to have others read my writing it should be of a certain standard or I just wouldn't feel comfortable at all.

    I have taken some of the advice on board already and started reading more this past weekend (which pretty much explains my delayed reply do this thread). As of right now at least I'm not aiming to produce anything that could be called literature - even if I wanted to, I don't think I have what it takes. However I'll be very happy if I can eventually not just effectively convey emotions and situations, but create an atmosphere. I used to read a lot when I was younger, even though unfortunately for the past few years life has gotten in the way. What I loved was when I would get completely absorbed in the stories and characters of the books I read. It would be great if I could achieve something similar with my own work.

    So for the time being I guess I'll try to read and learn as much as I can from this forum and the resources it links to. Also I'll be reading a lot of the posted stories and reviews to get an idea of what to aim for or avoid.
    In any case I now feel a bit reassured that my background does not necessarily set me up to fail. :)
     

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