Archive for July 8th, 2010

Jul 08 2010

What are the Costs and Benefits of Multilingual Characters?

Published by under Plotting

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

I was rereading through comments and found this one very sharp.

I’ve never understood the appeal of the power to speak all or several languages in works of fiction, I’ve seen it numerous times in fan fiction, but it never really made sense to me. The whole point of characters going to places where the language barrier is an issue is, well, primarily because the language barrier is going to be an issue, with a few exceptions in a few plots, and discounting fantasy works. Why send Captain Superior to China if the fact that he is an American-born superhero isn’t going to matter? Couldn’t he just stay home and skip a panel or two of flying? How is it exotic if he can just wander into any McDonald’s and order like it was any other Friday?

I agree that it’s important to cut out extraneous elements.  However, I think there are some situations where foreign languages would add something to the story even if the main character can speak them.

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