Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#1
A little bit about myself:
I started learning English 4 years ago. Back then I started reading a lot of novels making me addicted to books even today. After writing dozens of essays for college, I feel like my English is good enough to write a novel.
Therefore, I would like to ask for tips or anything that I should keep in mind as a new writer. peoapproval

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#3
Learn English! 

J/K 

Seriously, mad props to you for trying to write in a language that's not you're own. I'm from the South in the US and some would say that 'English' is my second language as well. I get that all the time from my wife, she's Swedish...English IS her second language and she speaks better than I do. Not to mention, making fun of me and everyone in my family for how we speak, 'The Queen's English' because of where we are in the US. 

This may not be advice, but is there a translator (other than google, b/c we all know that's atrocious) that you could possibly use to translate your original work after you've typed it in your own language. I know some times, an original work an lose some of it's effect in translation. reminds me of what the Merilvinginan said in the Matrix...'French...it's like wiping your ass with silk'. But seriously, consider typing it in your own language to get the effect and emphasis on the words and maybe using a translator you're comfortable with. 

I may be way off. Drinking and stuff. Not to mention...rambling. 

Something to think about. 

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#5

Jhonakthan Wrote: Therefore, I would like to ask for tips or anything that I should keep in mind as a new writer. peoapproval

My advice is the same as I would give any first time novel writer - 

1) Start with a smaller project. 
2) Finish it.

Smaller would mean under novel size - 80,000 words. Finish it does not mean "drop the story", it means "write to the conclusion you had in your head at the start."

That takes care of the number one thing that all writers need: practice. The second thing, and it's almost as important, is to get feedback on one part of your writing at a time. If English is not your first language, that's likely to be technical stuff... grammar, phrasing, adjective use, etc. Ask for line edits. Review them, learn from them, and you'll be amazed what a difference it will make.

The first novel is where most new writers get discouraged. Like so many things in life, discipline and hard work pay off. It's always hard to start!

Also, read finished, edited, professional native English novels, not amateurs. Read them carefully and look at how they build their sentences/etc. If you need suggestions for good reading, maybe similar to what you want to write, just ask!  

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#6
Have a deadline and post to a place where others can read it.

I spent 15 years writing just for myself and never really knew if what I wrote was any good. It's when I started sharing my work and having to be accountable to a posting schedule that I was able to produce work even I could be proud of at times. 

Writing is a bit like a tennis match: sure, you could play with a wall, but it's a lot more fun when someone else is involved. And that someone else is your reader.

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#7
The best advice I got as a new writer was to just write. Don't get caught up in having everything perfect your first time through. Just concentrate on getting down your ideas. Can't tell you how many times I didn't get an idea down and before I knew it, it was gone. Once you've got a rough draft written out, you can edit it to polish it up and catch any grammar issues. Good luck.

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#9

Jhonakthan Wrote: A little bit about myself:
I started learning English 4 years ago. Back then I started reading a lot of novels making me addicted to books even today. After writing dozens of essays for college, I feel like my English is good enough to write a novel.
Therefore, I would like to ask for tips or anything that I should keep in mind as a new writer. peoapproval



Technically English is my second language too, though I learned it when I was like, what, 7 - so I can't really excuse my screw-ups with that haha.
But my tip to you is the following.

Imma' be straight with you, if you feel your English isn't great, you are at a big disadvantage, if your first chapter has a few typos - you've lost at least 25% of your potential readers, but the trick is to put more effort in.

Don't just shrug and say you did you best, read over your chapter, once, twice - until you feel like you might die if you read it one more time (slight exaggeration).
Focus on the way the sentence is written, yes spelling is important, it's what'll throw off the people who are giving you novel a chance if you spell words wrong, but having your story flow well is more important, you'll build a fanbase willing to put up with the occasional mistake, remember - that's not an excuse to slack off - they're putting their trust in you as a writer, don't let them down :D

With that said, like I said, I'm just a bad writer - so I get to slack off.


Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#10
First, I would like to say that you have a great goal, and I wish you to achieve it and to write a bestseller.
When English is your second language, it won't be so easy to write a book, but everything is possible as soon as you want that and are ready to work for that.
I also study English for the last year, and I feel like, in the last three months, I have the biggest and the most consistent progress.
A writer must possess a strong and reverse vocabulary, and this is why I would like to recommend you check 6th grade vocabulary words.
Stay safe and have a wonderful day!

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#11
The best thing to do is to really study how a native speaker with good prose writes that prose. For example, David Eddings and Larry Correia have excellent prose. Patrick Rothfuss has near poetry in his prose (sad that he'll apparently never finish his trilogy). Really breaking down how they write their stories can help. 

After that, look at authors who are not native speakers. Sarah Hoyt, for example, has a truly thick Portuguese accent; actually, she said that she was from such a rural village (she was one of the rich kids in the village because she had two pairs of shoes) that Portuguese was her second language, and her accent sounds more Slavic to many Americans. You'd never know this from her prose, though. 

Something else to keep in mind is that you don't want to confuse academic grammar with colloquial written grammar normally used in prose; and that's still different from typical spoken grammar (which varies heavily based on region). Some dialects of English can get very peculiar, such as Scots English (not to be confused with Scottish), which still has a lot of Old English grammar in it. I mention this not to confuse you, but to let you know that despite the prevalence of academic English with its awkward rules is not the sum totality of the language. If you write in academic English, you'll sound as snooty and stuck-up as an American trying to speak classroom French in Paris. There's the "official" version, and then there's what people actually say; and just as people in New York and Texas speak different flavors of English, so too do other languages vary in their homelands. It's natural and human. Shift happens. 

So, ultimately, remember that your goal is not to get English "correct." There are myriad ways to speak English, like a musician playing around with variations on the same theme. Your goal is to communicate, and grammar is simply a method by which we communicate in a more efficient manner. For example, the sentence The staff were wearing black skirts or black pants and white shirts is similar to but fundamentally different from The staff were wearing white shirts with either black pants or black skirts. The latter describes the intent of the author, while the former (which is from a real trad-published book) accidentally describes something much more like a stripper joint than the formal event the author meant to describe. 

Learning the nuances is difficult. English is a weird language. You'll need to have people reading it not only to tell you when you write something confusing (or outright wrong), but who can explain why. That, in turn, is also difficult, because not everyone will have the time. Just focus on telling your story and working out the bugs later. 

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#13
A lot of people will say, just write. And while that can help for sure, I have to agree with what another user said. I genuinely believe READING is more helpful than writing. Read voraciously, consume tons of English-language books (preferably ones with well-written prose, but everything helps).

It seems backwards that reading can help your writing more than actually writing, but I firmly believe it's the case. Hope that helps, and good luck in your writing!

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#14

Jhonakthan Wrote: A little bit about myself:
I started learning English 4 years ago. Back then I started reading a lot of novels making me addicted to books even today. After writing dozens of essays for college, I feel like my English is good enough to write a novel.
Therefore, I would like to ask for tips or anything that I should keep in mind as a new writer. peoapproval

First, welcome the new writer friend. I hope you are doing good.

Hello, another non-native English speaker writer here. People already said try to write more and use a proofreader, which these things probably the best you can do to improve yourself, but I also wanted to say one more thing.

Don't be afraid to experiment with your writing, add idioms, use different words, try to descript something both in a detailed and non-detailed way.

Also don't forget to add a signature, it really helps to get reckognation.


Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#15
Hey, I also started writing just a year ago and I'm not a native speaker.

I've read some of the above statements and while I agree with reading tons of fictions to be important, that alone will only get you so far with writing (if you don't have a flawless memory).

If it is just for English:
I made a lot of progress by comparing my writing to other stories. Means e.g. for the description of the environment, I read lots of descriptions about similar environments from professional writers (e.g. sword of truth is a real treasure here).

If it is for writing in general:

First advice is the well-known "show, don't tell". I got that advice quite late and it makes a monumental difference to the quality of your writing if you can heed it.
Show, Don't Tell: Tips and Examples of The Golden Rule (reedsy.com) <-- is just one of thousands of blogs about this.

apart from that, I would need to review your fiction to give you direct advice, but I already have some reviews to do and are currently in the Writathon, so I have little time. Maybe send me a PM with a request to comment on your fiction if you need it and I'll check on it next week.

Re: English is my second language and this is my first time writing a novel. Any advice?

#16
In my experience, I try and let someone who primarily uses English read my works and have them check if it sounds right. There's no better grammar checker than the people who speak it! Luckily for us, the forums can help with anything you might ask. You can ask for any spelling and grammar checks there.

Also I feel you're plight, english might look easy but it got nuances that non - english speakers like us have difficulty in wrapping our head around. Like many of the people here advise, read a lot of books and expand your vocabulary. Also take a peek over here:

https://www.royalroad.com/forums/thread/54292