Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

I have an idea for a novel that I work on periodically in my spare time.  For Christmas I got some books on plotting and character development that I’m really excited about since I’ve never taken a creative writing class.  One issue that I’m hoping to find guidance on involves writing dialogue that is consistent with the setting for my fiction.

In this fantasy world I’m exploring, I visualize a landscape that is not as technologically advanced as ours.  I see an intricate network of islands organized in two opposing empires with some islands that aren’t aligned with either side.  I visualize island fortresses and war on horseback and marauding pirates.  However, I stumble again and again with getting the content of the dialogue to be true to this setting.  How do you write fantasy without incorporating song lyrics?  I’m pretty obsessed with song lyrics and find it difficulty to excise them from my writing.  I always skipped over the parts of Tolkien where the dwarfs sang and I don’t fancy writing poetry for my characters to quote at each other.

My main character is part of a guild of interpreters who serve an important diplomatic function.  How can I represent multiple languages in this story without actually resorting to using real languages?  If I do, how would I explain the presence of Spanish and English in a landscape with no Spain or England?  How do you know what kind of modern slang is acceptable to use in dialogue?  For instance, would people in these island kingdoms say “okay?”  I think anachronisms have the potential to yank a reader out of a believable story and I don’t want to stumble into that pitfall.

I’d also like to incorporate aspects of the story of the Tower of Babel and other themes from Christianity.  I see these interpreters being like priests in a sworn brotherhood of public servants.  They struggle with protecting the confidentiality of what they hear in their professional capacity and with the existence of God during times of terrible conflict.  How do I include Christianity in a setting with no Israel?

I’m honestly asking.

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My husband and I visited Spain this past Christmas.  I studied abroad there for six months as a college student, so it was a return trip for me, but it was the first time he had been to Europe.  I thought I would share some of the gems that I have been asked by Spanish people:
(1)  You are American?  How many guns do you own? I actually despise guns, but I have exceptional aim.  True story.

(2) You are American?  Is it true that every American has 3 cars? I didn’t own a car until I was 23, but I’m still defensive about this issue.  Spain is so compact – no one has a yard.  America is so sprawling and our public transportation system sucks.  Do I wish we had better public transportation?  Yes.  Do I wish we were more compact and didn’t have yards?  No.

(3) Have you been to New Jersey? Yes.  It’s just like the Sopranos.  It will fulfill all of your wildest dreams.

(4) Why do Americans hate the Spanish? We don’t.  We hate the French.  We find Canada amusing.  We can’t even find you on a map.

(5) Why are Americans such imperialists? I mean – if this is about the Spanish-American War (1898 for my American readers) we are really sorry that we took away your last colony and caused your nation to experience an existential crisis. 

(6) Why are Americans such imperialists?  Listen, it was a long time ago and I don’t even think my ancestors participated in that war.  

(7) Why are Americans such imperialists who always interfere with other countries like that one time when they deprived us of Cuba?  Damnit, the Monroe Doctrine gave you fair warning!  Shut the hell up.

(8) Is it true that not every American has health care? Yes, I’m ashamed to say it is.  But it’s much easier to give everyone in Spain health care than it is to give everyone in America health care.  Spain is about the size of Kentucky.  If we cared tremendously, I’m pretty sure we could give everyone in Kentucky health care, too.  But I hope the next time I’m in Spain this will be a moot point and I won’t have to be embarrassed anymore.

(9) Why are Americans so materialistic? The answer to that question doesn’t matter.  We have always made superior music, and that entitles us to just about any other vice.  Are you an American and feeling bad about your country’s foreign policy while you sojourn in another country?  Crank up the American music and feel good about your heritage.

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