Another cut form length, discussion about written/spoken French, more specifically French in fanfic
So hey, former native French fanfic writer, raised in French schools and finished high-school in 2008 (wow).
First of all, what do French classes look like till high-school: a lot of grammar/spelling/conjugation at first, then from our collège (11 to 15) a bit more reflexion on content - though there are still several grammar lessons and all. The principal notion was that we couldn’t write French as we spoke it: we had the registres de langues: familier, courant, soutenu, (informal, regular, formal) and French as to be written as soutenu, except for dialogues.
It’s in high-scool (from 15) that we start really thinking about the contents and the style, but there’s not literature class in France unless you’re in the humanities path (ie when you’re around 16, in seconde, you have to choose between science, humanities, or socio-economics). I chose the scientific path and French grades didn’t have a lot of impact on my diploma. So not much time/opportunities to explore different writing styles.
When you’re raised with teachers telling you that “le passé simple est le temps du récit”, that if you use any other tense in fiction you’re an outsider, and if you don’t have a lot of counter-examples, it’s quite hard to start your narratives with something other than past tense. Except if your writing is perfect, your teacher is likely to give you a lower grade.
My sister is ten years younger than me, and it’s still taught like that in school, though the content is less intense that it was at my age - I think there’s 2 or 3 years behind the level I was ? Education a general issue in France and parents complain that their children are not learning le subjonctif imparfait, except no one cares about it in real daily life ! So of course younger people start with the basics, and I think writing in other tense that passé simple will be easier for them.
Some examples :
- I just looked at my old fanfiction account. I started writing when I was around 14 (in 2005), and it’s all passé simple until I actually kicked myself in the butt and started reading English fanfics and ??? What do you mean, fanfics writtent in present tense ??? From them, I experimented a bit more but mostly when writing small formats like drabbles and ficclets. Yet when you look at my WIPs, any long piece that I start is passé simple.
- “Old” big names in French fandom, Nelja and ylg, write both in passé simple (more of this one, I think) and présent, but one again present tense is more often used when writing small fics.
- Aaaand I just checked my old fandom (Fullmetal Alchemist): most of the fics written by new writers, despite several (sometimes lots of) mistakes, are using passé simple.
So I’d say it’s like: when you’ve been born and raised with passé simple, it’s not until you gain some experience that you will forget your spontaneous reaction and try other things.
(Please note that the AO3 fics are a bit biased, though, because the website is not only in English but also not that well-known in the French community, so you’re more likely to find experimented writers in the French section. (Because French people are really that bad at langages, trust me, it’s not a myth.) If you want to look for more “fresh” new writers and compare, i’d suggest fanfiction.net, or maybe fanfic-fr.net if it’s still active.)
So hey Tumblr it was a nice ride with you but sadly I won’t be able to manage that big national classifying exam (sadly not the State Alchemist one) and that online part of my life so let’s bury my WIPs even deeper and wish you all the best while i bring you to (the weather) a blog hiatus for who-knows-when
i’ll probably sporadically keep on liking stuff/reblog some but don’t expect anything fancy !
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