Beta Reader Group discussion

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message 1: by Keeley (new)

Keeley (keeley_smith) | 25 comments Hi,

I'm in a bit of a pickle... as an author which country do you set your books in?

I'm currently writing a NA book and something is pulling me to set it in the US. I live in the UK and all my other books are set here.

Is this a big no-no? Do you mind it as a reader, knowing the author is a Brit? Has anyone done it successfully?

Any thoughts would be great! Thank you.


message 2: by Lin (new)

Lin | 213 comments Mod
There's nothing stopping you, obviously, but I suggest you at least use local beta readers - it's incredibly hard to write a story set in a real place you're unfamiliar with and have it sound authentic, and readers can get very upset. Betas looking out specifically for localisation issues would be essential. That's one service I offer for writers setting their stories in the UK.


message 3: by Keeley (new)

Keeley (keeley_smith) | 25 comments Thanks for your response :-) I'm not sure where I'm going to set the book yet, I love America, and I want somewhere that is leafy, small but close to a university :-) The last thing I'd want to do it upset the readers, and I feel like I should pick somewhere I've been.... hmmm... lots to think about.

thank you again!


message 4: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) Invent your own town. Stephen King did it. :P This way no one can say that there wasn't a restaurant on that street, or that there is no theater in town. Just make sure you use expressions from the country you set it in. For example, blimey might sound funny coming from a US character.


message 5: by Keeley (new)

Keeley (keeley_smith) | 25 comments That is a good idea :-) I've made up the village in my other book, I can't believe I didn't think of it! Haha, I don't think I've ever used blimey :-)


message 6: by E.L. (new)

E.L. Wicker (el_wicker) | 56 comments Hi Keeley,

I live in the UK but my book is set in the US. I think I have a few tips that can help you. First off, Google Maps is your friend, from road names to town names, it has everything you need. Secondly, set your word document to English US. As we spell many words differently this is essential. Thirdly, do your research. Research is one of my favourite things so I am in my element. I can honestly say that I know more about American history than I do English. Lastly, the lingo! For example a car boot becomes a trunk a wing mirror becomes a side mirror. If you have some american friends this is really helpful. I am luck to know a lovely lady from America that resides in England and some of the questions I have asked her seem downright silly but they are not! She had been fabulous at telling me the correct words for things. I also connected with guy that lives in the area that my book is set in, he has also been hugely helpful.

Also, like G.G. suggested a fictional town is a good way to go. My town is fictional but set in a real state. The guy that lives in that state helps me out for the wider things.

Pay close attention to your dialogue, there can be no blimeys or 'bloody hell mate' lol!

I read so many books and I would say that 99% of them are set in America. This is just because my favourite authors are American. I found that writing an American based book just came naturally because of the amount that I read.

I hope this has been a little bit helpful, best of luck. :)


message 7: by Keeley (new)

Keeley (keeley_smith) | 25 comments Thanks for the great input Emma! This is really appreciated. Yes, the lingo might be a difficult one, but my editor is American, so she might be able to help me out :-) I think a fictional town in a real state is probably the way to go. I just need to think of a lovely name for it now :-)

I read a lot of books by American authors so this might help me too :-)

Thank you!


message 8: by Vicky (new)

Vicky (ohmightyqueen) | 6 comments As I am British I personally like books set in my own country, however it always shocks me when I do suddenly realise something I'm reading is set here as it is always unexpected and my mind always assumes the US! I can understand your dilemma but it is up to you at the end of the day. It may be a nice change to set something in the US so go for it!

V x


message 9: by Chris (new)

Chris Haigh | 24 comments Each one of my books begin in London, because I know it well, but I always have part of the story set in a US location which I've been to. This way I can retain the Englishness (is that a word?), while bringing in an American theme to interest them. Although, I haven't published yet, I have had some success at Wattpad (over half a million hits), so it seems to work.


message 10: by Allison (new)

Allison Newchurch (allisonnewchurch) | 18 comments I'm in Australia. I am currently writing a book set in the south of England (I used to live there so am somewhat familiar with the area) hence have set my language to "UK English".

Last night, while writing, I used the word "removalist" only to have it flagged with a red underline. I know the spelling is correct so I went hunting for why. I discovered that the term "removalist" is only used in Australia, so have had to change it.

So, as others have said, using the right 'language' is quite important.

My previous novel was set in Australia but my beta readers are in US/Canada. I did wonder how they'd interpret the expression "I could murder a cuppa". :)


message 11: by Lea-Ellen (new)

Lea-Ellen (lea-ellen_night_owl_in_il) | 66 comments Ladybee wrote: "I'm in Australia. I did wonder how they'd interpret the expression "I could murder a cuppa"."

I live in the U.S. and sort-of get the gist of 'I could murder a cuppa', but I looked it up to be sure. While I would have thought it meant something like 'I could/would kill for a cup of tea/coffee' or 'I would drink the whole cupful', it actually means 'I would like a cup of tea.'

So getting the gist, and knowing exactly what a phrase means isn't always the same, but 'getting the gist' of the meaning may be fine if it's not a crucial piece of information that the readers should know/remember.


message 12: by Keeley (new)

Keeley (keeley_smith) | 25 comments wow! Thank you to everyone for your input, it is really appreciated! I don't know if I'm going to make up a small town here in the UK... I think I'm going to have to deal with medical info and I don't want to mess it up....

But, if I do decide to go the US route, I thank you for all your help :-)


message 13: by Keeley (new)

Keeley (keeley_smith) | 25 comments Chris wrote: "Each one of my books begin in London, because I know it well, but I always have part of the story set in a US location which I've been to. This way I can retain the Englishness (is that a word?),

Englishness ;-) I love it!

I think that is the key, knowing a place well enough that you are confident to use it. I've visited many places in the US but I don't know if I know it enough...



message 14: by Keeley (new)

Keeley (keeley_smith) | 25 comments Ladybee,

Just out of interest, what is a removalist? LOL


message 15: by Allison (new)

Allison Newchurch (allisonnewchurch) | 18 comments Keeley, I'm not sure if you're being serious because of the LOL, but I will presume you want a response.

A removalist is a person who helps you to move house. Usually they come in pairs with a large white van. They lug all the furniture and packing boxes out, pack it in their van, drive round to your new place and unpack it all.

I believe in the UK they're referred to as 'removal men' (although what happens if they're female, I don't know) and 'movers' in the US.

If you were just joking with me and didn't want a serious response, then you have my permission to cuff me around the head and tell me not to be an idiot. :)

Cheers
B


message 16: by Keeley (new)

Keeley (keeley_smith) | 25 comments No, I wanted a response :-) right, the removal people :-) Makes sense. It is fascinating how people use different terms.

You are safe :-)

Keeley


message 17: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) Two things on the subject, you can write in English but have US settings. US dialogue for Americans and UK dialogue or others for other nationalities. I have set my work all over the world and Google maps satellite view or street view is fantastic until you want to go back in time or forward. Old travel guides are excellent for historical i.e. was that building there when the period of the book happened?

If an American is speaking or from their POV then I would say trunk not boot, but otherwise I do not change my English book. Most of my sales are in the US and I haven't had any comments. Editing yes but nothing on US to UK.

I'm sure professional publishing houses change the terminology and language for foreign editions even just UK to US but I don't like the idea. The reverse never seems to be done i.e. translating US English to English.
\\Start rant...
Note not UK English.
It's called English for a reason not because Microsoft has a language setting on its Word Processor
End rant...//

Sorry couldn't stop myself and I lived in US for several years and have lots of US friends


message 18: by Lin (new)

Lin | 213 comments Mod
I would suggest that it's not just the language but the culture behind it that could be an issue. For one small example, I believe that in the US they learn to drive as part of school lessons, and most people only drive automatics.

Ideally, the attitudes of the people and the place the story is set in should be fundamental parts of the story, and it must be very difficult to really do that properly if you're not familiar with these things.

And Philip - as a language student, I can tell you that there are many varieties of English, from UK English to US English to Australian, NZ and anywhere else English - each country adapts the language to their own need and culture. Even in the UK we have different forms of the language - formal, informal etc. So claiming it as our very own is a little difficult - especially since the language itself is formed from so many different originating languages :)


message 19: by E.L. (new)

E.L. Wicker (el_wicker) | 56 comments It is important as a writer (I feel) to label which English language you are referring to. I feel the when I am writing a book based in America I use US English, in England - UK English. I see no harm in using these labels.

Lin, spot on - the cultures vary greatly. It is important to not only nail the language but the culture also. I never ever thought of this before, I studied Social Science at Uni and 1/4 of the degree was Cultural Studies therefore my brain is automatically preset to consider this, I just never realised that I needed to mention it as (silly me) I just thought that everyone did it lol! Funny how the brain works!


message 20: by David (new)

David P. (davecantrell) | 9 comments Regarding Message 18. I am American and agree with Lin's point. A big difficulty with US cultural issues is the variability within the country and within a particular state. For example, not all Americans learn to drive in school sponsored courses, although that is true for some school districts in some states. Again Lin's point about automatics is generally true, particularly in the large cities, but stick shifts are by no means uncommon.


message 21: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 129 comments Also, there are regional differences. Someone in st. louis missouri would speak us english differently than say, someone from bangor, maine. So if you're going to research US english, check out the regional slang of the area as well! not everyone speaks the same, ya know! ;)


message 22: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (victoriasue) | 4 comments Just thought I'd wade in here as a soon to be published author! My paranormal romance is set in the U.S. as there are simply no areas in the UK vast enough to fit in with the story. I've lived in the U.S. for 4 years but I was born and lived in England all my life. You need good beta readers to convert and point words out. Its not as simple as saying 'gas' instead of 'petrol' It's sentence structure. There are ways the Brits will say something that Americans just don't and its not about individual words. I thought I'd mastered it but I just got my latest back from a reader actually querying if the story is set in the Uk or the US because I used the word 'row' instead of 'argument' This is why Beta readers are worth their weight in gold.


message 23: by E.L. (new)

E.L. Wicker (el_wicker) | 56 comments They are indeed that. I agree that it is not simply gas instead of petrol, I don't think anyone implied that. It is definitely sentence structure. I agree with everything you said and I <3 my Betas


message 24: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Driggers (jacquelined) | 8 comments I see nothing wrong with it. Like others have said, just use some US based consultants when writing so they can steer you to US language differences. Also, when you choose and editor, you might want to choose one who lives in the US.


message 25: by Allison (new)

Allison Newchurch (allisonnewchurch) | 18 comments Similarly between Australia and New Zealand. Australians will say "didn't you understand that?" whereas a New Zealander will say "did you not understand that?"

Whilst Australia doesn't have the variety of accents that exist in the US or UK, there are differences between states and you can often pick where a person is from by what they call something.


message 26: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie John (authorsteph) | 39 comments Philip wrote: "Two things on the subject, you can write in English but have US settings. US dialogue for Americans and UK dialogue or others for other nationalities. I have set my work all over the world and Goog..."

Bit late to this post but thought I'd add my thoughts.
My first novel is set in US but one of the main characters are English. I'm writing using UK English, partly because I am English, but also because it's being told from their POV. With my US characters, I've (hopefully) given them an american 'voice' but have stuck to English spellings.
For example, if the american said "I like that colour on you" I've spelt it this way. However, if in the story they were to write "I like that color on you" then I would use the american spelling as that is what they would know.
Does that make sense??
I'm really hoping when I get to Beta Reader stage, that if I've missed the american 'tone' they can help!

To Keeley who first posted this topic - I hope you've found the right way forward for your story!


message 27: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (victoriasue) | 4 comments Stephanie wrote: "Philip wrote: "Two things on the subject, you can write in English but have US settings. US dialogue for Americans and UK dialogue or others for other nationalities. I have set my work all over the..."
Just an opinion, but based on my Editor's instructions, they are going to want the whole WIP the same. You can use different phrases for different characters, but you need to go with the spelling of the country you hope to publish in.


message 28: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Downing | 2 comments Keeley wrote: "Hi,

I'm in a bit of a pickle... as an author which country do you set your books in?

I'm currently writing a NA book and something is pulling me to set it in the US. I live in the UK and all my ..."


Lee Child is a British author but his Jack Reacher books are set in the states.


message 29: by Silver (new)

Silver Snow (SilverSnow) | 75 comments Good that someone brought up this point ... :) Anyone here who has actually been to Galena, Ilinois In the US? I would like to get their opinion on my slang ...


message 30: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Lake (ealake) | 34 comments Silver wrote: "Good that someone brought up this point ... :) Anyone here who has actually been to Galena, Ilinois In the US? I would like to get their opinion on my slang ..."

I've been all around the midwest (US) my entire life, Silver. What slang are you asking about? lake


message 31: by Silver (new)

Silver Snow (SilverSnow) | 75 comments Hi EA ...I seriously don't know myself what actually I am talking about!!! :( I will get to the point ... I want someone to read my work and tell me if that's how the people of Galena, Il talk ... live ... behave etc etc ...


message 32: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Lake (ealake) | 34 comments If you send me a sample of it (two or three chapters including dialog) I'd be happy to let you know.

ealake5@gmail.com


message 33: by Silver (new)

Silver Snow (SilverSnow) | 75 comments Right now, sir!!!


message 34: by Silver (new)

Silver Snow (SilverSnow) | 75 comments Sent it ... copied and pasted in gmail ... hope you dont mind ... :(


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