March 12th, 2010


Writing Tips: British for Americans

To anyone who has read something by J.K. Rowling, Terry Pratchett, or Agatha Christie, or watched a show like Doctor Who, Torchwood, or even Top Gear, the major differences between British and American English are fairly obvious. However, even though there is a significant amount of British literature and entertainment media available to writers in the US, and much American culture is readily available in the UK, allowing those on the other side of the pond to understand what you're writing no matter how American the expression, there are still many little things which will immediately make your reader think, or say, "that's written by a bloody septic!"

As was suggested in a previous fandom_grammar feature intended to help Brits write like an American, the best way to catch issues with Americanisms showing up in your writing of British characters is to find a beta who is British. As an Australian who writes for American TV shows, I am living proof that having a beta who "speaks the lingo" is the best way to avoid an embarrassing faux pas. Another suggestion from that feature was that if you're having trouble making your character sound "right", make a list of the expressions they use, and try and stick to those. That way, Rose will most appropriately be reaching for her bum bag, and not her fanny pack, the latter of which would have produced a most undesired response from your British and Commonwealth readers.

So, to help you avoid these troublesome situations and stop reviewers commenting that your Harry Potter sounded more like Sam Witwicky than an attendee of Hogwarts, Collapse )