An editor asked this question: Why do your characters speak the English language?
My first reaction was: Because they do. Because I do. So what? Who cares what language they speak?
My second reaction was to go to my message board and ask the question there and see what people said. I will admit that I thought the reaction would be the same as mine…but it wasn’t!
The replies were mixed but the majority said that if my characters are in a purely fantasy world then it doesn’t matter. The reader assumes the story has been translated from a strange, unknown language into a language they can read.
But… if the characters are from our world, and they find themselves in a fantasy world… then a reason must be given. Mostly everyone said that the first thing (well, no, the first thing would be “where am I?”, the second would be “how do I get home?” and the third…) the character would ask is “why do you speak English (or whatever language the book is printed in)? If they don’t ask the question, then the character isn’t curious enough and the reader will loose interest in them.
OK, this reply proved to be a headache because my main character is from our world! This meant I had to rethink the history of my fantasy world. Why did they speak English? What could be the logical explanation? What was the easiest explanation?
The easiest thing to do is to say “magic did it” but to be totally honest, I feel this is a cop out. I know it worked for other writers (including Stephen Donaldson in Mordant’s Need) but I feel that today’s readers expect more. So I started writing down different options open to me. There was always an issue with each option that I came up with (or that someone else suggested) until… my partner gave me the perfect option and a writer friend helped me fill in the blanks.
After several days of stressing over this issue, I’ve found the solution. Not only will the solution work well for Book 1, it will make Book 2 much better than I planned.
No, I’m not telling you what the option is. You’ll have to buy the book when it’s published but I will tell you that I now have to research Oliver Cromwell. 🙂