Translating I: Redefining Translation If you stop and really think about it, can you actually translate a story? I argue you can’t. What you’re really doing is translating an author’s intentions through your own retelling, meaning you may not be translating what you think. And that view of subpar but faithful wording rather than retelling the story as well as you can becomes an issue. Is writing subpar doing right by the author? Compared to anime & manga that have the luxury of music and art to draw people in, novels don't. Thus, good writing is critical. Literal translating limits word choice while storytelling takes imagination. To that end, it behooves us to take on a more liberal, yet restrained approach. So be bold with words, because while there is a line to be crossed in translation accuracy, it's crossed in the essence of the writing. To set your mind to the side of understanding what the essence of writing is, it’s necessary to understand a literal thought process so we can uncouple ourselves from it. Example: “I wanted you to help me find out about the jade pendant the other time. How’s your investigation?” “Regarding the jade pendant, I’ve already found out some information about it.” When we consider the context of this block as a whole, the jade pendant is already mentioned as a subject. Thus, the entire first part of the second sentence is unnecessary. There are little examples like this everywhere in web novels, whether they actually mention things in regard to the story or are simple sayings put at the beginning or end of a sentence. Keeping things just because the author had them is a literal mindset. Oftentimes, these little sayings serve no purpose and break up the flow of a sentence after translation. Engaging in the act of translation is to already change something from its original form. To follow through with that, you then want the new form to be the best it can. Let’s rewrite those sentences and see how things flow: Rewrite: “Have you found anything about the jade pendant I asked you to look into?” “I've found some information regarding it.” The essence of writing is all about the big picture and how you communicate it. Ultimately, the question is to what degree you consider a rewrite to be too much and whether that’s hurting the writing. That’s for you to figure out, but if the goal is good writing, leniency toward change is important. Translating II: Split Positions and their Implications If you’re a translator working with an editor, although you may not be the one doing the rewriting, there’s a status quo in the translation community that translators have the final say with wording. If English isn’t one’s strong suit, it’s normal to translate with a literal mindset, and that’s okay. But with all due respect, you asked for an editor for a reason. Disagreeing with a change is fine, but talk things over with your editor to find that happy balance. Understandably, we have egos about our work because of how seriously we take it, but at the end of the day, this isn’t for us or the author. It’s for the readers, and how we retell the story to them. Editing I: Sentence Rewriting Going back to the literal mindset, that also comes into play here. Leaving paragraphs or sentences structured exactly as the author had them is a literal mindset. However, restructuring text can have a drastic effect on how well readers comprehend a story and possibly communicate the story better than the author. If we can do that for the author, shouldn’t we? Along the same vein, we should look for any chance to combine sentences. First, I like to start by reading the whole paragraph, then looking for sentences that could go together and take it step by step. Example: “That jade pendant is indeed related to the royal family of the Nine Nights Dynasty. It’s said that over ten years ago, a lady suddenly appeared beside the former Emperor of Nine Nights Dynasty. That lady possessed remarkable abilities and assisted the former Emperor to secure his position as the Emperor in just a few months. That lady wore this jade pendant back then. However, after the former Emperor’s position was stabilized, that lady disappeared suddenly, and there’s no more news of her from then on. Rumors have it that the lady was already pregnant when she appeared.” Rewrite: It’s said that over ten years ago, a rumored pregnant lady possessing remarkable abilities suddenly appeared beside the former Emperor and assisted him in securing the position in only a few months. “That jade pendant is indeed related to the royal family of the Nine Nights Dynasty. It’s said that over ten years ago, a lady suddenly appeared beside the former Emperor of Nine Nights Dynasty. That lady possessed remarkable abilities and assisted the former Emperor to secure his position as the Emperor in just a few months. That lady wore this jade pendant back then. However, after the former Emperor’s position was stabilized, that lady disappeared suddenly, and there’s no more news of her from then on. Rumors have it that the lady was already pregnant when she appeared.” Rewrite: But she disappeared immediately after, and no news has ever come back of her. It was she who wore it. New paragraph: That jade pendant's indeed related to the Nine Nights Dynasty's royal family. It’s said that over ten years ago, a rumored pregnant lady possessing remarkable abilities suddenly appeared beside the former Emperor and assisted him in securing the position in only a few months. But she disappeared immediately after, and no news has ever come back of her. It was she who wore it. Now, a literal mindset would probably be screaming bloody murder at this point, but this is where the essence of the writing shines through. Nothing more or less has been said contextually, only the details come through in a far more natural way after they’ve all been rewritten, even with a different structure. Editing II: Text Condensing That’s the hard part, and a lot of it is easy for editors to overlook or not know is part of the job. What’s left will be minor in comparison, but may play just as much if not more of a role in making the English sound more natural than rewriting sentences. It comes in multiple parts: Numbers Nobody wants to read huge numbers written out. It has to be one of the most painful things in reading, but there’s also the question of where to draw the line with small numbers. Whether you want to follow this is up to you, but in school I was taught to write out numbers up to ten before using numbers. Contractions If you don't know what contractions are, they're combinations of two words by way of an apostrophe. It's best to hit up Google if you want a list, but please don't be afraid to use them. If you’re ever confused about a contraction’s usage, read the sentence using both of its words. If the sentence doesn’t make sense, the contraction is incorrect. Example: Incorrect: “What is it’s (it is) name?” Correct: “What is its (possessive) name?” Exception: Because of plural form, adding 's to a noun can either make it a contraction or possessive depending on usage. Repetitive Names & Details Languages such as Chinese & Japanese that use symbols with specific meanings use the same literal name in every reference. Once a reader contextually understands something and it is the current subject whose name has already been mentioned, referring to it the exact same way is unnecessary and tiring to read. Example: Non-condensed: The Sky Chasing Wind God Book is over there! Hurry! The Sky Chasing Wind God Book is getting away! Ah! The Sky Chasing Wind Good Book went around a mountain! Condensed: "There's the Sky Chasing Wind God Book! Hurry after it!" "Ah! It went around that mountain!" Readability & Flow Readability. The culmination of all the previous lessons. Now while I say that, that's still not all there is to it. Rhythm is important, and it brings readability into the realm of flow. Though not often called a writing skill, varying sentence length is something you can actively do to achieve flow. The same sentence length, all the time, all the same, gets very dull and boring. Don't write words, write music.