On Writing Authentic Fiction
Deciding on an author “brand” can be daunting. I mean, it’s supposed to reflect your style, your personality, your book themes—even your favorite ice cream flavor. I hadn’t given this aspect of my career as an author much thought until it was time to re-do my website. And suddenly, there is was. “Writing Authentic Fiction.” Something that felt right. Real. And maybe a bit unique.
At least I hoped so.
But what is Authentic Fiction? How can fiction (which is inherently “not true”) also be authentic (which is inherently based on truth)? Do inquiring minds want to know?
Here’s my best explanation:
What is Authenticity?
Authenticity is about being the best true self that you can be. Not someone who bows to the expectations of other (controlling) people or forces, but someone who is content with who God created and designed you to be.
And someone who desires to walk purposefully in that design.
So, how does that concept connect to how I write fiction?
My stories have their roots entwined around real people, places, circumstances, struggles, and triumphs. Sometimes that includes my own experiences, which I’ve had to live out and unpack before my story characters can move forward in the unfolding plot.
Other times, I’m compelled to probe into tender wounds and painful memories of others in order to understand the motivations, the mistakes, and the subsequent glory that comprise the authenticity I’m looking for.
My stories are also about heart issues that concern me—that I am invested in. Themes that are part of my personal authenticity and connected to my God-given purpose.
A Weird Comparison
It’s like a scavenger hunt. The random collection of stuff on the list doesn’t seem connected. But when you start looking—going here and there, asking for this or that, searching for the unlikely and undesirable—suddenly you have a full bag and that’s when you run for the finish line for the prize.
In my case, the prize was a finished novel, a complete story. And although it’s fictional, it reflects and honors a generation of real human beings who deserve to be known and heard.
I don’t know of any formula for plotting this kind of story. Writing it doesn’t come easy, but the reward is worth the wait and the effort. Authentic stories are what I want to write and what I love to read—and I hope you do too.
Read a Free Chapter
I’m offering a “sneak peek” at Her Shining Eyes for anyone who signs up to receive my newsletter. It’s a special chapter—not the first in the book—but the one that germinated from a writing prompt in a writers conference class over six years ago.
Just follow the simple instructions in the side bar of this post. And let me know what you think!
In my next post, I’ll share some short reviews of novels I consider to be “authentic fiction” and why.