Friday, February 20, 2015

Fiction Lacking Verisimilitude Is A Problem

I get it. The definition of Fiction is that it is not real. I am all over that. But, with that said, to truly build a connection between the reader and the characters in the book, the things happening in the story have to be real. I do have to say, before going any further, that I always hesitate when I speak on things such as this because of the misinterpretation I get from so many people. For example, I have said that in women's fiction, I want stories about "real women in real life situations." I end up with non-fiction memoirs and biographies. This is not what we are talking about.

I was on the way to the office this morning and surprisingly, the sports radio station actually used an intelligent word for once. This is actually one of my author's favorite words as well so I figured it must be fate to write about this today.

Verisimilitude - the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability 

(This is from one of those great online dictionaries) 

I bring this up because I have seen lately an increase in stories that are truly lacking in verisimilitude,
and this is happening in all genres out there. This is also one of the biggest reasons I end up passing on so many stories out there. The storyline simply is not believable. The things the characters say and do is far from close to reality.

I do believe much of this is stemming from an author's attempt to create such a unique story out there, a plot that has not been done before, that all ounces of verisimilitude have gone out the door. Sure, the author has this unique project, but the lack of believability turns the story into something so ridiculous the story fails. 

As an author, it is important to stop and really examine your story. Would this really happen? How would a character really react in a situation such as this? What emotions would we likely see if something like this were to happen in real life. I don't care if your character is an arch angel or a werewolf, the reactions have to be as close to human as possible. 

I recently read a story where the heroine finds out that her father was shot and in the hospital. I have to say, the story fell apart right there (and that was in chapter 1). Why? She was completely matter of fact about the situation. The author tried to create a rationale that they were distant from each other, they had a troubled past and so forth, but it was still her father. A tragedy such as this would bring out emotions that would be extreme. The odds are the character would immediately be frazzled. The character would want to know more. The character might even break down and cry. The character, however, would not simply say "Let me close down this file, pick up a few things and we can go."

Keeping it real is important. The closer you get to real life ideas, the more your readers will be able to share in the same emotions as your characters. 

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