Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Verisimilitude

Verisimilitude is one of those words I've read or felt I understood, but never really knew the definition. I see "verisimilitude," and I think "very similar."

But the dictionary definition is more precise: the appearance or semblance of truth, as in "The play lacked verisimilitude." (Had I studied Latin, I would have noticed verum=truth, similis=similar).

In fiction, writers give their stories verisimilitude, for example, by crafting realistic dialogue and by using specific details to describe a setting. Verisimilitude makes it easier for a reader to suspend disbelief and enter a made-up world. That doesn't mean that all fiction has to be grounded in real life's messiness. Growing up, I loved reading Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles," set in the future, and Jean M. Auel's "Clan of the Cavebear," set in the past. For a great post on the different kinds of verisimilitude in fiction, check out http://writingandliterature.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/verisimilitude/.

Here's a challenge: use "verisimilitude" in a sentence and not sound pretentious!


Principal Some Day said...

Love your "challenge"! (Unfortunately, it can't be done, ha ha!)

Title Loans said...

I misinterpreted it the same way you did. I supposed we both failed to understand the Latin roots. Clearly it's a language that should have never died. I don't think all fiction has to, but I do think that all fiction has a part of messy reality tied to it in some way, shape or form. Don't you?