Prestige_posterHey everyone, once again this is a late post and I must apologize for that. There was some confusion on my end as to whether or not it was my week to write a post. Anyway, I want to talk to you all about the importance of authenticity within your stories. For me personally, what grabs my attention in a story is not just having interesting characters, but also an authentic setting. There are the obvious things like types of transportation that are relatively easy to adhere to, and then there are the tiny details which I think make a story real even though (and possibly because) they escape casual attention. I think a great example of what I mean is the movie The Prestige. This movie is brilliantly put together, in my opinion, and is a must watch. If you haven’t seen this movie then I’m sorry, but I’m about to spoil a major plot device in order to make my point. One of the main characters, Borden, is actually two people. They are identical twins and they have spent their lives being one person, taking turns between which one got to be Borden and which one got to wear a disguise. This is where the authenticity of the movie plays such a huge role! Christian Bale plays both twins but depending on which twin is being Borden at any given time, portrays the character of Borden slightly differently. He walks a little differently, he talks a little differently, he even responds differently to certain situations. What is fascinating is that during the first watch it is almost impossible to discern this, and yet after this fact is revealed if you re-watch the movie it becomes obvious when the different brothers are being Borden. This is authenticity at its finest, and also incredible acting by Christian Bale!

Of course, there is more to authenticity than just having authentic characters. Authentic settings are also vitally important. If your character comes to a village that lives in a heavily wooded area you might want to think about what types of trees are in those woods and what sort of life those people would live with the resources they have available to them. Authenticity is about having coherency between what is seen in the story and what would actually be plausible given the setting of the story. Even if some of the elements of this coherency are not explicitly given in the story it is important for you, the writer, to think them through. A grandiose example of what I mean by this would be the relationship of The Silmarillion to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion gives life and authenticity to the world of Middle Earth and its rich history. Obviously, I don’t expect you to create a Silmarillion-esque work for every story you write, but the idea that you should have details in your mind which influence the story even if they aren’t presented within it remains true.

So I guess the takeaway is that when you are writing characters and worlds, part of what makes them believable and relatable is the authenticity of the world with its history and the characters within their respective settings.

2 thoughts on “Authenticity in Writing

  1. It seems like a large part of authenticity is in doing details – not every little one you think of, but enough to show that, as with Bale as Borden, you’ve thought about what’s going on under the surface.

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