Monday, 1 October 2018

A - Authenticity in Writing

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Welcome to a new series of blog posts titled "Authors' Tips - A to Z of Writing". Eight  authors -- Devika Fernando, Preethi Venugopala, Paromita Goswami, Reet Singh, Ruchi Singh, Sudesna Ghosh, Saiswaroopa Iyer and I -- will be posting on a multitude of subjects  related to writing. 

Topics will be chosen alphabetically and each week we propose to cover at least one or more subject characterized by the Alphabet of the Week. 

So, let's get started....

I've chosen to go with the topic of Authenticity in Writing. 

Authenticity in Writing can mean different things to different writers. For some, it may be the concept of writing something from the heart. If as a reader I enjoy reading mysteries or romances, or as a viewer I pick horror films or supernatural thrillers, this preference will also be reflected in the genre that I choose to write in. It's highly unlikely that someone who does not enjoy reading sci-fi novels will be able to write a believable story in that genre. So, it all comes down to translating your love for the genre, understanding its tropes and making your writing "authentic" to readers.

Authenticity could also be related to story elements. For instance, if you are working on a crime story where a police investigation is in progress, it makes sense to write scenes that are plausible in a real life situation. For that you need to do your research well and get a basic understanding of police work and how a crime investigation would work. Authors are known to conduct interviews with experts to make their scenes as authentic as possible. This is an important aspect because even though stories emerge from our imagination, they have to appear to be plausible. Or else your reader will not go along for the ride.

Stories are made up of a number of characters but are driven by a few (including the protagonist and the antagonist and perhaps a couple more). Being true to your characters is another way of imparting 'authenticity' to your writing. Knowing your characters inside out and understanding their goals and motivations, their behaviour traits, likes and dislikes is critical. If you know what makes them tick, the actions of the characters will be true to the personas that you have created for them. Often readers lose interest in a story when they perceive a character behaving in a manner that is not 'true to his/her character'.

Perhaps the best advice comes from screenwriting guru Robert McKee. He exhorts writers to "Write the Truth". Truth, as distinguished from mere facts. Writers, he says, who don't believe in what they write are just propagating lies and half-truths. "Story," says McKee, "is not a dramatised lecture but a meaningful insight into life." So, as a writer and storyteller, you owe it to yourself and to your readers to be authentic.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Do check out these posts in the series...

Here's the A-List: 

A is for Anti-Heroes by Reet Singh

Authorpreneur by Devika Fernando 

ABDCE Plotting Formula by Preethi Venugopala


  1. I loved Robert McGee's line of thought. Our writing becomes authentic only when we write what we believe in. It certainly will sound half-baked otherwise.

    1. Exactly, Preethi. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  2. Authenticity and not what works I feel too.Great post.

  3. Totally agree, being true to your characters is the key! Insightful post.

  4. Basically, writing from the heart and not worrying about what sells. Authenticity leads to the best writing!

  5. So many domains in authenticity - lovely pointers, thanks, Adite

  6. Great post. I, too, love the whole 'truth' vs. 'facts' angle. Because I disagree with the often-touted advice to 'write what you know' as opposed to 'write what you believe in'.

    1. Write what you believe in seems just right, doesn't it? Thanks for reading, Devika!:)