I have a fantasy story in my head for several years now. I wrote an outline for a book and draw a crude map of the world. I even started writing the first draft, but one of my biggest problems is my vocabulary. I am Swiss and my native language is German. But I mostly read English high fantasy (Tolkien, Howard, Sanderson, Eriksson) and also watch movies in English. But still I am struggling to write something that doesn't feel it's written like a primary school essay of an English or American child. I don't like reading and writing in German (I blame my German teacher), the only exception was the Witcher books as the German translation from the original Polish ought to be way better than the English.

Is there a way to get more (fancy) words in to my vocabulary to make it a better read, beside the aforementioned reading and watching in English?

Or, probably too opinion based, does it even make sense to try to write a novel in a non native language?

  • 1
    Hi Thomas, welcome to writing.se! Take the tour for the usual badge. You are currently asking two questions. I would suggest you focus one of them then ask another question if you need to. Good luck and thanks for participating!
    – linksassin
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 7:12
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    Regarding what language to write in, here's a question that asks exactly that: writing.stackexchange.com/q/46858/14704 Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 7:14
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    @Thomas: It isn't bad. It is noticeable. In daily conversation, you'd get by just fine. If the characters in your book speak oddly, and obviously aren't modern day English speakers, then that would be fine. If the narrative text in between were that way it would be irritating.
    – JRE
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 10:58
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    Fact is, you will never reach native fluency in English without living in an English speaking environment. I strongly advise you to write in your native German. The first books will feel cumbersome, but the writing acutally doesn't come much easier for someone habitually reading in the language they write in, and after a bit of writing under your belt and continual daily practice, you'll become more and more "fluent" in your writing.
    – user40570
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 12:40
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    For many years I have attempted to write in English, but eventually began writing in German, because even though I think in English, I don't think in correct English. It is not enough to have a passive fluency through decades of reading in English. You need an active fluency that comes only with an active everyday use of the language. And even then, many native speakers cannot write correct English! Writing well enough to publish is a whole other level from being fluent orally. And I'm not even that.
    – user40570
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 16:26


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