Most fiction authors would probably shake their heads and say that their stories weren’t true. After all, myself and many of the people I know write about supernatural topics like magic or mythical far off kingdoms filled with elves and dwarves. Perhaps you write about heinous murder mysteries and gritty police procedural, that while closer to our world, are probably not things you experienced in your life (I hope!). The whole point of fiction, you may cry, is to provide escape from our daily lives. Stories don’t have to be true; they just have to be good!
True is different from authentic. I know someone who wrote about alien abductions and secret government agencies. They didn’t have any lived experienced in that, but the fact that close to the end of the first series the author wrote about an attack on an installation that just so happened to drop a building on two characters named after former bosses…that was probably some of the most authentic writing in the series. Don’t piss me off, I’ll put you in a book and have something happen isn’t just a catchy coffee mug or bumper sticker, it’s a pave-stone on the road to authenticity.
Of course I’m not advocating we all do this, no matter how sweet the catharsis. When you read all the definitions of authentic , you come to the one which I’m talking about–not false or imitation.
Writing authentic stories means we’re telling the tales that are OURS. We’re not trying to imitate (insert big name writer/book here) and we’re not pretending to be the same as all the others. We’re being ourselves, our authentic selves, truly, madly, and deeply.
There is no one right, or wrong, way to be authentic. Even if you’re writing genre fiction (and let’s be clear, every genre has it’s plot points, notes, and endings), make sure to tell the story your own way. From the setting and characters to the twists and turns in the plot, to the way that the ending comes together. Make it your own.
There are enough writers out there trying to imitate the next big thing, or the past big thing. Tell your stories. Be yourself. After all, there’s only one of you.