Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is This Real? A Study in Verisimilitude

Sometimes you wonder whether a story is fiction or whether it really happened. After hearing "The Mappist" by Barry Lopez on NPR's Selected Shorts, I wondered whether the program had detoured from its usual fiction fare to offer an essay. I was uncertain enough to look up a book mentioned in the story, The City of Geraniums, which I couldn't find on the Web. The book may be out there, but the point is that Lopez created such believable characters (main and supporting), setting and dialog because he knew which details to include and how deep to go with them. Both facets are key, especially in this story, which had some philosophical points for readers to consider.

For effective verisimilitude (from veri similis, like the truth) in fiction, it's important to include what John Gardner in The Art of Fiction calls "vivid detail," which really is the "lifeblood of fiction."

To put today's musing into action, see the writing tip at the top of the list and let me know how it goes.


GULAHIYI said...

I, too, was impressed with the "Selected Shorts" performance of "The Mappist." You might enjoy my piece on that experience and a very special edition of the story.

Unknown said...

Thank you for these ideas!