Living between two cultures speaking the same language but with many differences, I sometimes find myself confused when it comes to le mot juste. Now that I'm doing some final edits to The Hating Game, I often wonder if the word I'm using is indeed the right one. My main character is British, so I need to be ultra-careful that she speaks like a Brit -- a difficult task, even though I've been here for almost seven years.
Back in the summer, I wrote an anonymous short story for a writing competition. With only 1400 words, I was sure there was nothing in it that would flag me up as North American. But oh, how wrong I was. The lovely judge, Katie Fforde, told me afterwards the word 'butt' gave me away. Sigh!
So this time, I'm determined my British character will be 100 per cent British! And when in doubt, I turn to Twitter. It's a great tool -- within seconds, people chime in with their opinions. I do my own research too, but it's a great way to verify what you've found.
For example: Butt is not used much in Britain, although among the younger set it's starting to be more common. Arse is the way to go!
Proms are quickly being adopted UK-wide.
Calling someone a 'chap' is posh. 'Bloke' is more colloquial and 'guy' is being used more and more among hip types.
Tree-swinging is called a 'zip-wire' or 'zip-lining'.
And there you have it! Thank God for Twitter or my MC might still be tree-swinging!