is for Verisimilitude
Verisimilitude is the appearance of reality in a work of fiction.
I have written before about how all narrative is a construct of reality. This means that it is supposed to seem real, but it’s not really reality, it’s just constructed to appear that way.
My soon to be released novel, The Revenant, is case in point. Revenants as described in my novel do not exist in reality. And though they are believed to exist in certain circles of belief, the jury is still out as to whether seers, aura readers, empaths and possessed spirits actually exist. As a writer, that is none of my concern. As a writer, my job is to make you, the reader, believe my story could be real, that these creatures could–and in fact do–exist.
I recently had a verisimilitude shocker. I set out to travel the downtown core taking pictures of places documented in The Revenant. When I arrived at Yonge-Eglinton Square, I was surprised to see that the square was under construction. By the looks of it, they were extending the shopping plaza there out and into the square! My heart sunk at the thought of the size of the re-write–I’d have to relocate the scenes there to Dundas Square if I wanted to maintain the verisimilitude of the scene. That is, if I wanted people to believe the scene was real based on the scenery I described.
How important is verisimilitude in a piece of literature to you? If you read about a scene and there are errors in the location or the science being described does it spoil the story for you? Post your comments below.