Thursday, 12 March 2009

Voices Across the Pond

Anyone who is looking to sell their short fiction, particularly if, like me you are writing in the SF/horror genres, will sooner or later start to submit to markets based in the States. In fact, although there are some excellent small UK based magazines, over in the States the short fiction scene in these genres is positively flourishing, so really you’d be daft not to.

Now as a UK based writer who writes in UK English, I used to spend many a long hour painstakingly converting all my UK spellings to US ones to have a version of my story to send across the pond, but after a time I stopped doing it.

The main reason behind my rationale is that UK and US English seem to differ in more than just spelling. There are all sorts of words and phrases that exist over here but not over there, and I’m sure – in fact I know that I use a lot of these in my writing, without even being aware.

So out they go in UK English and you know, I don’t think it makes any difference. I’ve sold a number of stories now to markets in the States.

It is interesting though, some of the words and phrases that differ. Okay, we all know the obvious ones such as ‘flashlight’ for ‘torch’ or ‘sidewalk’ for ‘pavement’, but a new one on me, which Eric over at Hadley Rille Books pulled me up on in the edits of my ‘Footprints’ story, was the phrase ‘as of old’. (Which for any American reading this blog means ‘as in the past’.)

It had never occurred to me that this might be a very English turn of phrase. I wonder what other phrases and words I use that leave our American cousins scratching their heads in confusion.


  1. I find that types of story differ too. I had a story which, despite repeated submissions in the UK was consistently rejected, only to find a home in the US after a single submission. I can't for the life of me work out what it was about the story that made it appeal to a US editor more than a UK editor, but that just adds to the overall mystery I suppose. Needless to say I was required to accept a lot of Americanised edits which ever so slightly diluted the Englishness of the story.

  2. That's an interesting observation Huw. Cheers for sharing.


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