Writing for an International Audience
I'm a South African living in South Africa, which means I write and speak British English (we like to add extra letters to our words and use "s" instead of "z". Like neighbour instead of neighbor, and realise instead of realize). I wrote my first novel using British spelling, because that's the way I'd always written words. But when I started writing books that I knew I was going to epublish through Amazon, I figured the majority of my audience would be US readers. (There are people in South Africa who read ebooks, but we're way behind the US in that regard.) So ... I decided to switch to US spelling.
The thing is, the difference doesn't stop at spelling. We use different words as well, and I didn't always realis/ze that while I was writing! Fortunately, my critique partner lives in the US and she pointed out the differences as she went through my manuscript. I remember a particularly confusing email exchange about a plug in a bathroom, because she thought I was referring to an electrical plug (what is your character plugging in?) while I was referring to the plug you put in the bath to stop the water running out (oh, you mean a stopper, she said).
Here are some other examples of words I changed after the first draft:
post = mail
zip = zipper
bath = bathtub (I even asked for suggestions on Facebook about what word to use for the noun bath! People were very helpful.)
icing = frosting (although it seemed to me from my Googling that US writers use both icing and frosting, so I stuck with icing in the end)
sweet = candy
And there are a whole lot of other word differences that I didn't use in this novel but that I have to remember in future writing (like bonnet = hood and chips = fries).
If you're a writer, have you had to consider these spelling/word differences before when thinking about your intended audience? If you're a reader, do you notice whether the book you're reading has US or UK spelling, or do you just read the book?
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Rachel Morgan is the author of the newly released YA paranormal fantasy The Faerie Prince, second novel in the Creepy Hollow series. You can find it at the following online retailers (and if you haven't yet read the first book, The Faerie Guardian, you can find out where to get it on this page):
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