Thirteen Translation Writing Tips
Tim Kaney reports:
"Most foreign languages will run 20-25% longer than written English. If a formatter has to add space to a translated document for it to fit, time lines will increase and so will costs...Most foreign languages will run 20-25% longer than written English. If a formatter has to add space to a translated document for it to fit, time lines will increase and so will costs...Remember to write short, simple sentences. Writing long, complicated sentences in English will only slow the translation process down, increasing time lines and costs [and creating]...a higher chance of a confusing translation...Using consistent terminology will not only result in cost-saving for you, but it will [also] result in much more clear and precise translations of your material...Avoid idioms. Idioms such as “Kick the bucket” may have a clear meaning in English, but most likely will not in other languages. In most cases, a phrase such as this would be translated literally...Avoid Acronyms. Also known as initialisms, these abbreviations will not always translate exactly as the phrases they represent will not always have the same letters in them. Beyond that, they may not always represent the same thing in the targeted foreign language audience. It is usually best to spell these phrases out completely...Try to use visuals wherever possible. Including visuals of what is being translated can greatly increase comprehension and understanding from your target audience...Make sure to explore the cultural differences between your source language and its culture and your target audience’s. Sometimes figures of speech and even non-localized graphics to depict the target audience can be offensive. Also make sure that your message means the same thing in your target language...Having a native-speaking reviewer with industry experience in the target language will greatly increase accuracy in highly technical translations laden with jargon...Make annotations in your project outline if there are terms that cannot be translated...If you decide to make these accessible to your target foreign language audience, make sure they are correct...Decide what will stay in English. This can include part numbers, legal information, product names, logos, and graphic call-outs (not recommended). If these need to stay in English, be sure to make a note of that and inform your translator or agency...Consistency in these selections are also extremely important...If you plan on translating your material into Asian languages, be sure that the document is already formatted to support that language. A typical English font is encoded differently and needs to be changed at the point of formatting in order to properly display an Asian font. Try to look for Unicode versions for Arial, Myriad Pro, and Times...Using thick Asian fonts is a good thing for legibility, plain and simple. If you can find one, use it...Check computer and language compatibility. You can check this on a PC...You can change the language and region settings in order to properly display foreign languages on your computer. Just give this a glance and make sure you are creating your document in the desired language compatibility mode."
Dan Richter reports:
"[W]riting a 30-minute sitcom script is not as hard as you would think. As in any story, a sitcom episode has to have a well-thought[-]out plot with well-conceived characters. It will also be important to learn how to write your script in the proper format...Create a cast of characters...For a sitcom, it is advisable to create between four and eight main characters who will appear in every episode...Plot out the story lines in your script. Sitcoms, minus the commercials, are typically 22 minutes long...Every sitcom episode has a main plot (story A), as well as one or two subplots (stories B and C). Sitcoms usually have three main acts (divided by two commercial breaks), as well as a teaser scene in the beginning. Make sure that the problems or challenges of stories A, B and C are wrapped up or have some conclusion by the end of the third act...Buy or download a scriptwriting program or template such as Final Draft or the Screenwright screenplay formatting template. Both programs provide directions on where your margins should be, where the dialogue goes and where your stage directions, scene headings and character descriptions go in the script. Start each scene heading with either 'INT.' for a scene taking place indoors, or 'EXT.' for a scene taking place outdoors. Indicate where the scene is taking place and the time of day. Write the entire scene heading in caps and separate all of the information using a dash...Tab down two lines and describe what’s currently happening and which characters are in the scene...All of your scenes must start with a scene heading...Write the teaser of your script. The teaser typically consists of one or two introductory scenes that get people interested in your program and that will make them want to stick around for the whole half hour. The teaser scenes can be stand-alone...or can be the start of one of your three main plots...Write [A]cts 1 and 2 of your script, which should consist of three to five scenes in each act. In [A]ct  you will start each of your two or three plots by presenting a character or various characters with a problem, challenge or obstacle...Act 2 will see a continuation of plots A, B and C and show the characters’ progress in overcoming those problems or obstacles. The final scene in [A]cts 1 and 2 should feature some sort of twist or added complication that will leave the audience engaged and make them want to wait through the commercial break to see what happens in the next act...Write Act 3 of your script, which features the resolution to all of your main story lines...Keep the dialogue in your script funny. The greatest element of a sitcom is the comedic moments that come from the dialogue and actions of the characters...Have as many people read your script as you can and have them each offer you feedback."
Blair Hurley reports:
"[Surrealism is] a technique or a genre, whatever you want to call it, that makes things seem just a bit off. The world is slightly skewed...and it highlights what’s really at stake in the story...[T]ry using it in your own writing as a way to make things stranger, more dreamlike, and ultimately more unique and memorable...If your story is too strange, the reader will begin to feel uprooted, disconnected from the characters and the problems of the story. If it’s a story where people can fly and monsters are just illusions, then where’s the danger? Why doesn’t your character just fly away from harm, for example? The most chilling or ominous surreal stories are where everything seems normal — until it gradually becomes clear that something is wrong, something is inescapable out of your character’s control...The surreal has things in common with dreams, but it’s a lot more compelling. As Henry James said, 'Tell a dream, lose a reader.' People love to talk about their dreams, but nothing’s more boring than hearing about someone else’s. What makes a surreal story work, however, is that it has the potential to be anyone’s dream, not just the reflection of one person’s memory and neuroses. Don’t write a story that has your character wandering down a misty hallway and finding her own face looking at her from all the windows. Don’t have Aunt Gertrude chasing your main character through a haunted house. Don’t choose the seemingly random, impossible details that seem possible in a dream...Dreams don’t work well in stories because of this randomness, but also because they’re inherently self-absorbed, fully introverted, concerned only with one person’s psyche and how it has gotten scrambled in sleep."
William Henderson reports:
"Writing for cartoons is more than creating the dialogue that characters speak. You have to first bring to life in your head the entire story, from scene and setting to characterization and conversation. Then you have to translate your mental pictures into words in such a way that an animator can readily add images to your words...[T]he only real qualification that matters is how good your script is and if someone's interested in making it. Pinaki Ghosh, a screenplay writer, also touts an interest in -- and history of reading -- comic books: 'Writers who have vast knowledge of comic books and graphic novels will be better animation screenwriters than the ones who have never really loved reading comic books and graphic novels.'...[T]he writing-services website Screenplay Writers recommends minimizing dialogue, writing vivid action scenes, keeping your story moving toward its end and avoiding scenes that have more than two or three people in them. You should also learn standard scriptwriting formatting and the programs most often used, such as Final Draft. Finally, if they're available, read the screenplays of cartoons you like and think worked well...Joe Barbera, of Hanna[-]Barbera fame, notes that he learned during his career that clever dialogue and well-written scripts are key for engaging an audience in a cartoon. 'Whether full-length animated feature, prime-time animated sitcom or Saturday morning cartoon, it all begins with the script,' he writes...'[A producer] has to have someone who understands story structure, character development and dialogue. In other words, he has to have a cartoon writer.'...Novices need not apply [to work for Disney]...as major studies, including Pixar and Sony Pictures Animation, seldom -- if ever -- give a newbie a break. Make a name for yourself in smaller features, and sometimes the door opens just enough for you to get your shot...Before that happens...cartoon writers [are recommended to] write, finish and sell screenplays and make a name for themselves."
Jason Blume reports:
"[W]hat should you do if you're writing ["staff writer"] songs instead of hits? The first thing to do is to congratulate yourself for reaching this level. You've worked hard to get there, and many writers never master the tools and techniques as well as you already have. You can't get to the next level until you've reached this one, so you're right on track. Now, let's look at some cold, hard facts. It's not uncommon for a major artist to be pitched in the ballpark of 1,200 songs for his or her album. Most of these songs will have been written by professional writers with major credits. There are simply not enough slots on hit albums to accommodate every songwriter who's vying for one of them. If an album includes 12 songs, it's likely that some of them will be "inside" songs—songs written or cowritten by the artist, producer, the label executive's boyfriend, or someone else involved in the project. It's likely that a couple of the songs will be contributed by one of a handful of top writers who are consistent hitmakers. This may leave only one or two available slots. So how can you possibly compete?...You've got to give the listener (a publisher, producer, record label executive, or recording artist) a compelling reason to choose your song over all the other songs in consideration...That reason won't be your sparkling personality. It'll be a combination of a fresh, unique lyric, an attention-grabbing idea, an exceptional melody, and a demo that shows off the song to its best advantage. In other words, in a field this competitive "good" isn't good enough. Let's assume you've indeed written a truly incredible song. Now other factors come into play. The publisher you meet with may already be representing other songs that are similar to yours. He may have 30 [staff writers] he's already committed to. Possibly your song is not his personal taste, or maybe he's just having a bad day and missed the fact that your song truly is brilliant. Presuming your songs really are strong, there are a multitude of reasons why a given publisher might not choose to publish them...Developing writers often achieve their initial successes by working with small, independent publishing companies. If you're targeting huge publishing corporations that have tens of thousands of songs in their catalog, as well as fifty or more [staff writers] (many with number one songs to their credit), there's not much of a chance that your song will be something they feel they "need." However, if you're pitching to a publisher who represents a small catalog of songs and does not have a commitment to many [staff writers], your song (if it's exceptional) will likely be something this publisher will be thrilled to represent. There are countless stories of songs that went on to become huge hits after being rejected by virtually every record label...Timing is another critical factor...Once the demo goes into the mail there are at least a thousand factors that are out of our control. We can't affect the mood the listener will be in when he or she hears the song; whether it will fit a specific slot required for a particular project; whether the idea of our song is similar to one the artist has already recorded for this album; if it's consistent with a theme or concept for the album; whether it's something a particular artist wants to express musically and lyrically; or a hundred other things that might stand between us and getting this song recorded by this artist. So, what can you do? Keep plugging away. Hone your skills until you can consistently write excellent songs—and, occasionally, exceptional ones. Build your catalog until you have incredible, fresh songs that are appropriate for a wide variety of artists. Continue to network, join local songwriting organizations, and attend workshops and seminars where you'll have an opportunity to interact with industry professionals and other writers who are working their way up the ladder. Understand that it's normal for a song to face many rejections before finding its home. And remember, you've chosen to pursue a career in a fiercely competitive field. Don't beat yourself up for not being where you'd like to be. You're on your way."
Get In Media reports:
"For television writers, the first step is an entry-level gig as a staff writer. This is a less glorious title than it appears, and does not receive a credit, but it is the probationary proving ground that trains emerging storytellers in the art of creating episodic television...The process will vary depending on the executive producer and show format; TV staff writers may be given a very detailed job description or left to figure out their role one step at a time. The bulk of the work takes place in the writers’ room...In these collaborative sessions, the staff writer should take advantage of the opportunity to provide input. Like improvisational actors, writers bounce ideas off one another with the aim of adding to and supporting brainstorming, rather than detracting from it; constructive criticism should be followed up with a pitch for a solution. If invited to do so, a staff writer may participate in first reads and rehearsals with the cast, to be on hand to take notes and make necessary changes to scenes that are not playing well. The eventual goal is to develop your own scripts...A degree is not required for work as a television writer, but a relevant education is invaluable...Writers should certainly have storytelling talent, but just as important is a realistic understanding of the industry, a skin thick enough to take constructive criticism, and the ability to effectively collaborate. Take it upon yourself to learn how to properly format a spec script using software like Final Draft and Movie Magic. Above all, remember that being able to produce creative content on demand is your job—there’s no mooning around waiting for the muse to alight. This is a professional environment, not an artists’ colony...Staff writers are not guaranteed the opportunity to write episodes and are not paid script fees, but they are given the coveted chance to participate in script meetings and have input on the final shooting script. Certainly, a rookie staff writer cannot afford to be picky when hunting for a break-in opportunity, but think long and hard about the type of television show you want to work on. Gravitate toward the genre and subjects that most inspire you, and the writing you deliver will be better for it. The best way to get a foot in the door is to write spec episodes of two or three shows you love—this might be your only chance to write an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so go for it. You or (more likely) your agent will circulate the spec scripts among showrunners, and if you’ve got the right stuff, you’ll eventually land a staff position...Identify the workflow style and determine the vibe between the showrunner and the writers and the pecking order among the writers themselves; your job is to mesh with the team dynamic, not turn the show on its head. Embrace the executive producer’s vision—don’t fight it...Those who prove their talent, skill, and dependability to be invaluable may be offered advancement to the role of story editor or writer-producer, or receive offers to write on higher-profile TV shows."
Martin Jones reports:
"One of the most commonly used tools in the content marketer’s arsenal is the white paper. This powerful piece of content can be a lead-generating magnet if you do it right...The content you create to widen your audience and keep existing fans interested – blog posts, videos, infographics, social media posts – is what we know as demand generation. It makes people aware of you and primes them to want more. That’s where lead generation comes in. At some point, you need to see who’s truly interested into you – the ones who will willingly give you their contact information and become a sales lead. But in many cases, they’re not going to just give up their email addresses or phone numbers. You need to continue to add value to their lives. Your white paper can do just that. As an in-depth, rich piece of content, a white paper will be a major value-add for your audience...[T]ake the time to figure out what your potential leads want to read. A common mistake that a lot of businesses make here is releasing a white paper based on what they think is important, rather than what the audience wants to read. Use social listening, or even directly ask your audience what they want to know more about. What burning questions do they have that you would be well-positioned to answer? By delivering content that soothes their pain points or clarifies a confusing topic, you’ll position yourself as an expert while giving people a good reason to give you their contact information in exchange for the critical information. This is just as much for your own benefit as it is your audience’s. A good white paper needs to be meticulously researched and written, with reliable sources and experts cited throughout. This can take weeks, if not months before you have something you can put out to the world. If you haven’t clearly defined what it is you’re writing about, you’re going to spend a lot of time spinning your wheels as you try to figure out what’s important and what’s not. A clear thesis makes the whole thing much more straightforward...A good white paper should be an inch wide and a mile deep. It’s a piece that gets really into one specific topic and fleshes out the fine-grained points far more than an average blog post or video. Don’t try to answer every possible question your audience might have...[F]igure out what’s most pertinent to your audience and stay focused on it. Remember: You’re talking to a very specific target audience...A good white paper is educational and informative. Its sole purpose is to add value to your most interested leads’ lives and display your expertise at the same time. For this reason, it’s a more indirect way of selling. Use your white paper to give your readers information that will help them make decisions. Remember: These are fresh leads. They still need to work their way further down the sales funnel before you start coming in with language that directly tries to sell them something...[Y]our prospects are expecting something informative and useful. But they also expect it to be professionally done. If you don’t have the capacity to produce a great white paper yourself, it’s worth working with a freelancer or content agency to help you put out the best possible paper. You supply the expertise, they supply the high-level writing, editing and formatting the project deserves...Once you’ve finished your white paper, promote it everywhere. Social channels, blog posts, affiliate networks, your employees’ email signatures – anywhere it’s going to be seen by potential leads. Repurpose some of the white paper’s content for these purposes."
Tips for Deciding between Writing Your Own Will and Hiring a Lawyer to Do It for You
Barbara Diggs reports:
"Lawyers generally charge between a few hundred to several thousand dollars to draft a will. However, the price of do-it-yourself online will programs ranges from $20 to $200 or more, while writing the entire will yourself costs you nothing...Having a lawyer draft your will can buy you peace of mind. A lawyer can ensure that the will complies with state law, provides the best tax advantages for your estate and heirs, and accounts for particulars in your specific circumstances. In short, you may feel more assured that the document will stand up in court even if contested...If you chose to write a will without a lawyer, be sure to carefully research applicable state laws...In addition, write your wishes as clearly as possible because ambiguity in a will can render it invalid. If you use an online program to draft your will, read all instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. Some programs offer to have a lawyer review your documents for extra cost, an option that may give you additional peace of mind while saving you money...In some circumstances, hiring a lawyer to draft your will is the least risky option. You should probably hire a lawyer if you have assets in multiple countries or states, have minor children, have been remarried, are in a same-sex relationship, own a small business, possess assets over $2 million or believe your will might be contested. A lawyer may also be a good idea if you do not understand the online forms or believe that the forms do not meet your particular needs."
Adriana Bielkova reports:
"If you dread editing, it can help to think of it in the same way as you do your writing. Both writing and editing are as much about creativity as they are about discipline and planning...Rather than steaming straight into editing, spend some time planning. Take lessons from your writing routine. Do you prefer to write in the morning, or in the evening? Do you need solitude, or can you freely scribble away in a noisy café? You may set yourself a word limit to reach each day. Setting achievable goals keep[s] you motivated to put pen to paper...Do you find that you run out of steam quickly? Then you might find it useful to schedule in an editing day after several days of writing. Or maybe you prefer to write the whole thing first and edit after?...[J]ust remember to break your editing into achievable goals like you did your writing. Editing a thousand words a day sounds much more doable than editing the entire novel...Structural editing focuses on the basic elements of storytelling, things such as narrative drive, pacing, structure, and point of view...Copyediting[,] on the other hand, is about polishing the surface: correcting mistakes in usage, continuity, grammar, and style...Proofreading is the very last stage of editing–identifying and correcting all the remaining errors. There’s no use spending months correcting typos only to realize you need to rewrite half the book for it to make sense structurally...Don’t underestimate the importance of giving your mind a rest between writing and editing. Stephen King famously leaves six weeks between writing and editing his manuscript. Again, how much time you need depends on how you work...Separate your sentences and think about whether each of them makes sense both on its own and within a wider context. Look closely at your choice of words and get rid of any phrases or words that are unnecessary or cliché...Isolate every sentence on a separate line and use double spacing so you can clearly see the length and pacing of each sentence. Read the sentence out loud to discover how it flows and whether any words are jarring...[P]rinting a draft of your novel can be a useful process for spotting further mistakes. Words look different on a printed page. Plus, it’s nice to give your eyes a break...Remember, no book was ever published without editing. Sit back, unleash the red pen, cram your mouth full of cake, and enjoy yourself. Your book will be all the better for it!"
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.