Monday, March 17, 2008

Resonance of Authenticity

The imprimatur of an authority figure lends words credibility via resonance. As a novelist you can take advantage of this fact for greater authenticity. For, in a novel credibility is that all-important commodity known as suspension of disbelief.

You can make a character seem authentic by anointing him with the resonance of authority. Just have him expound on the ideas of an anointed authority he is a disciple of. For example, if the character is a general, you can make him a disciple of Napoleon; if she is a psychiatrist, you can make her a disciple of Sigmund Freud; if he is a tennis pro, you can make him a disciple of Vic Braden.

You can even achieve this authenticity by resonance with a fictitious authority figure. For example, in The Magician, Sol Stein invented a character who was a foreign-born psychiatrist. To lend him authenticity via resonance, he had this character espouse a fictitious theory proposed by a fictitious authority. This fictitious authority figure lent resonance to both the character and the theory. So much resonance that it fooled psychiatrists! To his surprise, some wrote Stein asking for directions to the professional literature on this theory.

Ah, the magical power of invoking authority.

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