Putting Authenticity In Your Writing
Putting Authenticity In Your Writing
When you really enjoy writing—especially with a foreign flavor, it’s fun to put a bit of authenticity into it. Favoring the exotic and the mysterious, it would be quite acceptable to create your own reality, evoking a language and lifestyle all your own. However, when you want to make your fiction writing believable you will need to do your “homework.”
It’s nice to assume that everyone speaks English—however, this is not the case. When your protagonist journeys to Germany, it is preferable to have some German dialect involved. Remember, you need to either have paraphrases or an actual interpreter for you audience who will predominately be English speaking readers.
Google and other search engines make it easy to research your country of choice. You can find photographs of the landscape, the people and even the language. There are people who do actually speak English living in other countries so, if you just want to use what is most comfortable for you when writing—do it. It would just make your story more interesting if you occasionally use the language of the foreign country.
Let these conversations be limited in scope however, to just the minimum of dialog. Don’t burden your readers with page after page of relentless foreign chatter. Confine it to the encounter of your main character perhaps meeting an individual who is bilingual. Here is an example of an acceptable setting.
The Ambassador's Folly ...
Denise has been working as a journalist for a dynamic newspaper called The Gainesburg Chronicle. It is a hard-hitting publication whose focus is on revealing corruption in political circles. Her editor has sent her to Germany because there is reason to believe that the American Ambassador to Germany, Henry Albright, is padding his pockets with money from sources with very questionable motives.
Denise has a friend who is also a member of the ambassador’s staff. This man is willing to meet with her under immunity. His name is Erhard Huber. Denise is meeting him in a little bistro outside a village in the Black Forest. Denise is greeted by a young woman.
“Willkommen bei schroders!” (Welcome to Schroder’s!) The young woman says.
“Ich bin hier, um einen Freund von mir Erhard zu treffen.” (I am here to meet a friend of mine, Erhard.) Denise explains.
“Ja, Erhard. Auf diese Weise bitte.” (Yes, Erhard. Right this way, please.) Then Denise follows the maiden into a separate part of the bistro where Erhard has been waiting for her, sipping on a vodka lemon. He smiles when he sees her approach.
Now, you have set the stage for the meeting. Denise has a rendezvous with a young German aid to the American Ambassador to Germany. They have met at a small, secluded bistro in a local village. Plus, Erhard has chosen a part of a pub that is separated from the general public.
Do your research! First, find a German name for your contact. If he is a citizen of that country, why not give him a name that is indicative as well. Next, Get a good map to spy out some areas that would be a good choice for your meeting. In my last series, I chose the Black Forest of Germany. There are some beautiful images of the terrain and I have personal stock photos that can mimic the landscape.
Get a good translator to add authenticity to the surroundings. Have the person speak in the language of the country along with its translation in parentheses. If your area includes a tavern or pub—make sure you are familiar with the dishes the locals would either eat or imbibe. Whiskey cola and vodka lemon are drinks that are favored with some locals. If food will be included as well—make sure this would be available at your chosen location.
When you want to go into the details of how the place is furnished or what the server is wearing—you will definitely need to research, unless you have visited the place you are writing about.
If you are lazy with your authenticity—your readers will know this. Therefore, it will be worth the effort to create the right atmosphere. Let us pursue our couple a little more.
Meeting With Erhard ...
Erhard puts down his cellphone and rises to meet Denise.
“hallo mein Freund!” (Hello my friend.) Erhard greets Denise extending his hand warmly.
“Es ist gut, Sie zu sehen.” (It is good to see you.) Denise replies accepting his hand and shaking it firmly.
“Wenn Sie es vorziehen, können wir auf Englisch sprechen.” (If you prefer, we can speak in English.) Erhard offers.
“Ja, I would prefer it.” Denise answers.
Now, you have introduced the language that you prefer to write in. You made a fluid, even transfer. Your audience is aware of the change and there is no further need to explain why you are speaking English in Germany.
The use of these simple tidbits can and interest as well as authenticity and variety to your writing. Use them sparingly, as you would when seasoning a prime piece of meat. It can be overdone as well as not enough. Above all—happy writing.
© 2019 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS