It’s done! The first draft of my ms is complete and I’m about fifty percent through my revisions. Phew. It took long enough.
This little story has two MCs, one male and one female, with (what I hope are) completely different voices.
Here’s the tricky part: the boy character was born in Massachusetts, but spent his teen years living in Yorkshire, England.
Umm…yeah…nailing his dialogue has been a challenge.
Luckily, I’ve stumbled across a wealth of knowledge on this subject thanks to Twitter and British author, Luisa Plaja.
She wrote an incredible article called, “Traveling Trousers and Pants on Fire: When YA Titles Cross the Ocean” and gave me a list of several books featuring American teens living in Europe (besides Anna and the French Kiss, people).
I’ve spent the past few weeks reading as many of those stories as I could. HOWEVER, I didn’t really get the differences between American English and British English until I read a YA novel written by a Brit.
I read Luisa’s own, EXTREME KISSING and Louise Rennison’s WITHERING TIGHTS (Rennison is more famous for her Georgia Nicholson series, which I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet).
I laughed my arse (by the way, I think only old people or people in Yorkshire actually use the word arse) off through both books. Luisa’s characters are incredible! Their personalities and voices and motivations are so perfect! Jealous.
Here’s what I learned:
1. I needed a glossary (actually, Withering Tights came with one) or Wikipedia handy. Miz, boffin, lawks a mercy? Am I the only person who didn’t know what those mean?
2. Sentence structure is different. Brits are more likely to end their sentences with ‘really’ than to start them that way.
3. The word “properly” can be used in a wide variety of ways.
4. Using online UK slang websites only makes you sound like an idiot (I’m so glad I’ve had Luisa to ask questions like, “Would a teenager actually say something was ‘pants’?” Her answer: “Some do, sometimes.” But since I wouldn’t have a clue how to use it appropriately, it’s safer for everyone if I don’t.)
5. I think Brits may actually speak in complete sentences — or maybe they just speak in more complete sentences.
Now I’m off to apply all that wicked awesome knowledge to my brilliant manuscript (and that’s just one example of why my character’s dialogue has been so hard. What kind of idiot would put both of those phrases in one sentence? Besides me, of course.)