Tag Archives: construct

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter V




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.

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter N




is for Narrator




The narrator is the person who tells the story. Narrators can be protagonists of a story, secondary characters in the story, or an unnamed persona uninvolved as a character in the story.

Narrators are not to be confused with authors. Even when the narrator is the uninvolved persona, the voice is a construct created by the author and not the author him/herself. Often the narrator is reliable in that s/he tells the truth, portraying an honest version of the story being told. Sometimes, the narrator may be unreliable, spinning a story later revealed to be just that—a story and not a truthful retelling of events.

Some interesting narratives I’ve read lately include Rose Baker, the unreliable narrator of Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist, and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, narrated by Death. Taking place during the early part of World War II, Death is ever-present. As a narrator, he focuses in on the characters and then pulls back to remind us he is always there, lurking in the shadows, audience to the players on the stage, waiting until just the right moment to cull their souls. Though I found this structure awkward at times, it works in the big picture when the reader learns that Death is a reliable narrator–when he says he will return for a soul when the time is right, he means it. He lulls the reader into a false sense of security, almost forgetting Death’s pledge to remove the character from the narrative and then he returns, reminding us of his presence.

Have you read any interesting, off-beat, or unreliable narratives lately? If so, share them in the comments below.