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!