1. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    What language to write in?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by WriterDude, Jun 19, 2011.

    Not sure if this is the correct place to put it, but it's mostly about publishing. The problem is I live in Norway, so I can write in both norwegian and english. But which one to choose? Both have their pro's and con's.

    Norwegian: Gives me a small marked, but can be easier to publish over here.

    English: Can sell the book world-wide, but as english isn't our main language, it might be difficult to find a publisher.

    Any advice would be very helpful.
     
  2. Laura Mae.
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    Laura Mae. Member

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    Not to disregard your native language, but publishing in English will provide you a wider audience. Plus, a lot of Europeans read, write and speak in English almost fluently as a second language anyway. If you are finding it difficult to get a publisher in Norway who will publish your work in English, if that's what you choose, you may have to take your work to a British or American publisher, or another country where English is an official language. As long as you have it thoroughly read and checked for grammatical errors and the like, you should have just as much chance as a native English writer. Good luck.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I wouldn't think about it in terms of sales. Choose the language you're most comfortable writing in. If you write in Norwegian, there's always the possibility of having it translated into other languages.
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I'd agree with thirdwind. Write in whichever language you feel most comfortable in, and are going to be able to produce the best material in.
     
  5. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the tip. I think I'll go with english this time around. And if I can't get it published... I'll deal with that when I have to.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with those saying that you should stick to the language you feel most confident in, even if you write in norwegian there's nothing saying that you can't be translated into english later on.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You are aklways better off writing in the language the piece will ultimately end up in. There will always be something lost ing translatrion, often a great deal.

    Consider the importance of word choice in a single language for subtleties of meaning alone. Add to that choices of word for tonal effect, or for dual meanings, and the richness of idiomatic expression, and you can get some idea of the challenges that translation can pose.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Keep in mind that one of the greatest novelists, Vladimir Nabokov, originally wrote in Russian and later in English, but then he went back and rewrote some of his early Russian works in English. I'm not sure what his motivation was for doing that, but the size of the market may have been part of it.

    You might find yourself in the same position. Please give a lot of thought to writing in English - you might save yourself a lot of work in the future!
     
  9. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    English will give a wider market whereas Norwegian would probably be easier for you but give a small market. I'd go with English but you could always do both or get it translated later (just make sure it's a reliable translation.). I also find that English has more synonyms on the whole than other languages (no doubt because of it's multiple influences.) . I don't know if this is true when it comes to Norwegian but it seems to be a general rule. This should make your writing more interesting.
     
  10. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    I struggle with the same question, having ESL.

    The problem with English is that is a very subtle language that can only be trule mastered if you live in an English speaking country. In British English, what NOT has been said, the word that was NOT chosen, broadcasts an important message. In your native tongue you usually can picture a scene more accurately...

    Having said this, I am writing in English (sort of, ha!). When done, I intend to translate it back into my mother tongue and then go to find a publisher here. We'll see. It's all about grasping the right, subtle, atmosphere.
     
  11. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I have searched around a bit on publishers in the US, England and Canada, and it doesn't seem to be too much of a problem to publish there. At least not much harder than it would be to publish anywhere else, including Norway. The biggest issues are the language and actually finishing a book. I can't know yet if I'll finish the books I'm working on, but the language shouldn't be too much of a problem. Just read my posts on this forum. I don't want to brag, but I have had people say they forgot english wasn't my first language. ;)
     
  12. beaver777
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    beaver777 Member

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    I chose to write in my first language since I don't care about the money, and I also found it sad that there's practically no horror novels being published where I live (Finland), so I thought I'd write one. (It's pretty character driven, and not all that scary thus far, but I'm having fun writing it, and it's good practice. :))

    It is true that English has most synonyms, but that hasn't stopped all the creative non-English novelists with high verbal IQ everywhere from producing quality novels with rich language.

    For example, someone mentioned Nabokov, who indeed preferred English later in his life (while living in the US). Anyone, who has read his works knows that he was very OCD about adjectives, and probably slept with a dictionary, which makes for both extremely high artistic quality and a lot of work. Most people who read, read for the story, and in my book (pardon) there's no need spending a week pondering over the nuances of a sentence.

    Also since every writing teacher remember to mention about Hemingway and 'economy of words', avoiding flowery language or purple prose could be considered modern. Personally I think a little bit of flowery description is a-ok, if subtly dispersed--which goes for description itself, but I've already strayed too far from the original topic. Oh well.
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Had I written in Danish, I think I'd been more sloppy with my word choices. Writing in a second language inspires humility and caution, or so I like to think. Perhaps I have no excuses, other than I like English for its flexibility and nuances. Once I'm done with my current WIP, I'll have a native English speaking friend look through the text and point out where it might sound off.
     
  14. beaver777
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    beaver777 Member

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    For me it seems to be the other way around--when writing in English I tend to exercise less caution over the nuances, and can sound crude at times.

    I'm fairly positive that I too could write a novel in English, and have it proofread by a native speaker, but then, another thought came to me that I didn't include in my previous post: English speaking world has vastly more competition than our tiny Northern countries. So it's probably easier to get your work published in Norway, Denmark or Finland, than in the big world. :D
     
  15. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or you could write in coptic and have no competition, except from the 300 people who still speak it. ;)
     
  16. beaver777
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    beaver777 Member

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    Hehe.

    Well, if one's novel is good enough, it might get translated and reach a wider audience. That way both those who know English and those who only know *enter a marginal language here* will get to enjoy it.
     
  17. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Interesting topic.

    I've tried my hand at writing short pieces in Italian and German (both of which I speak intermediate to fluently), but it doesn't come as easily to me still.
     

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