Friday 3 June 2011


AUTHENTICITY FACTOR. How authentic is the story line? The world building? As a reader, I find that I am more able to connect with a scene, character and/or a made-up world if it feels real to me. If it has a convincing semblance of reality in it. I call this the AUTHENTICITY FACTOR (AF). For a world, scene, plot, character or story to be authentic to me, it also has to make sense. The more it makes sense the more it's AF rating goes up. Take for example, let's take a scene off the book Sparks by Laura Bickle. This extremely long-lived character explained to this human about the idiosyncracy of his three-headed friend. He says:
"After a few centuries, they tend to develop a personality of their own."
Developing a personality after a long time is a logical possible next step to me in a magical entity. I can connect with that a whole lot more than just saying, "they are like that just because it's magic". Okey, that might be acceptable, but the AF rating would be a whole lot higher if it makes more sense than "just magic" and leave it at that. Those kind of books which leaves it to "just because it's magic" may catch my reader's attention but tends not to keep it. While the ones where it made more sense, not only catches my attention, but also has a higher likelyhood of keeping it.

The more authentic the world, the scene, the plot, the character is, the more I can easily suspend disbelief. Now a few concepts in the literary world here overlaps, like the concept of suspension of disbelief overlaps the authenticity factor. I guess it is sometimes inevitable that some concepts in the literary world would overlap as they play in the same field, so to speak. However, there is also a distinctness between the concepts of suspension of disbelief and authenticity factor. One is about suspending reality and the latter is about having as much reality in it as possible. And that is as far as I'm going with it's differences as this post is actually about the authenticity factor. There is a whole lot more to that "overlapping concepts" but that's also a discussion for another time.

So, to the book readers out there, what is your opinion about the authenticity factor of a story?


  1. I can totally relate to this post because authenticity definitely plays a very important role in my reading experience. One of my biggest pet peeves in urban fantasy is when a character is supposed to hold some kind of profession like a cop or a P.I., for example, and does nothing a professional in that field would actually do in real life. The character follows very little if any procedures or rules and makes numerous reckless nonsensical decisions...and yet, he/she still somehow manages to maintain credibility in the eyes of the other characters in the story. That leaves me feeling a bit cheated and annoyed.

  2. Marg K. - I think you've just given "authenticity factor" a more solid example than in my post. And I totally agree with you, Marg! :)

  3. Agreed. I hate when things feel stale or I get that deja vu feeling.

  4. I'm always concerned about plausibility in my writing. A lot of people do think that if a book is fantasy, it is easier to write because you can just put it all down to magic but in fact it is that much harder because you have to create an entire new world full of different principles. Books that have an authenticity capture my attention and make me appreciate the story and the author's writing all the more. Great post!

  5. Juju at Tales of & Keri - It seems that a lot of us readers agree about the importance of the "authenticity factor" in a story... and now a writer too :)


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