The Secret to Authenticity

This past week, I have gotten the best feedback-slash-compliment that one of my readers has ever given me:

“Your writing is very genuine.”

It took me by surprise, I’m not going to lie. Making my writing genuine has always been one of my top priorities. Sure, I don’t want my plot to feel forced or my dialogue to feel like my characters are reading from a script. Any author attempting at a readable story aims for these things.

But authenticity in your writing lies in the little details. 

Draw from your own experiences—or other people’s, if you haven’t quite done the things you’re writing about. You’ve done so many things in your life that you haven’t quite thought about: burned toast, dropped a contact down the drain, stood outside the same fish tank at the aquarium when you were four because you were amazed that the fish were tiny rainbows. You’ve done very smart things and very stupid things, and you’ve had amazing days and horrible days, and you’ve loved people and hated people for seemingly irrelevant reasons.

Your characters can do these things, too.

I’m going to use high school for this example. Because this is Teen Authors Journal, I’m going to assume that most of you have been to high school. (If not, then I’m sorry! I hope this still helps you out 😉 )

If your characters are in high school, then have them complain about how annoying their combination locks are. They can talk about homework and tests (not too much, though, or you’re only reminding the reader of all the homework they’re putting off). They can note the best bathrooms to use during what periods or which teachers will let you come in late without a pass. Maybe the best table in the library is the one next to the window on the far left, but you have to get there early or else this specific group of juniors takes it. The second sink from the left in the art room is leaky, and the black piano in the music room is perfectly in tune, so you can use it to tune your violin before orchestra—but don’t use the brown one, because it’s a half-step off.

All this minutia that seems boring in your everyday life can be quite the opposite for a reader. It adds another layer to your character. People notice things, people complain, people make mistakes, and people get embarrassed. To make a character seem like a person, you have them notice things, complain, make mistakes, get embarrassed.

Personally, one of my favorite things in books is when authors talk about things that aren’t usually talked about. I’m a pretty awkward person, so I relate to characters that notice weird things or say interesting things by mistake or embarrass themselves. I love when authors talk about little details that other people overlook. It gives another layer to their characters, and their plot, and maybe even them. Authenticity is in the little things.

Go out there and be the writer that notices things and writes about them.

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NinaMartineck

NinaMartineck

Hi, everyone! I'm Nina, a sixteen-year-old writer in Western New York. I've finished my first novel, The Knowers, and I'm querying and editing between homework and musical rehearsals, but I couldn't be happier ?

2 thoughts on “The Secret to Authenticity

  1. I love this because it’s so true! Also, I feel the exact same way. It has always been very important to me that Include all the little details of life. I learned a lot about this through writing my most recent book. There’s a lot of little things I like to add from my own life. 🙂

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