Lost and Found in Translation

I rewrote the italian version of the Zymachi illustrated synopsis (ho riscritto la versione italiana della sinossi illustrata degli Zymachi).

Whenever I’m working on a story, my first step is to tell it to friends and relatives. Usually that’s how I shape it up entirely. With Zymachi, storytelling wasn’t enough: plot was complex, and I had a lot of bottlenecks to widen, so I started writing it down by hand, in italian. I wrote it as if I were talking to someone, just explaining the plot, that’s why I call it a synopsis. Usually I wrote in bed, just before falling asleep. Some of the ideas came to me carried by dreams. Manuscript was raw, I polished it on the keyboard.

Second step was to illustrate the synopsis. I wanted to visualize the charachters and the locations, and eventually bypass lack of description. As soon as the sketches were ready, I posted the whole thing on my website.

Then I started translating the synopsis in english. It wasn’t a mere translation, english can be a very synthetic language, so I was able to condense most of the material. I gave things the right name: Internal Sea for bloodstream, Jellyfish for white blood cell, Free Machine for cancer. English is fantastic for names: I can’t find the italian for Jelly-Spermwhale! Moreover, I started adding dialogues. I’m not a real writer, I had never noticed before how a dialogue can extricate the narration, maybe that’s because I have a comic background. In comics, dialogue is the easiest way to build interaction. Description is provided visually, then you just have to fill the balloons. A writer can’t do the same, he has to balance words from description to dialogue.

Third step was to translate synopsis back into italian. This was a very simple task: I realized that I write in english having italian structure in mind. It just “sounds” like english, but it’s italian in disguise.