Verisimilitude: Did that Make Sense?

Johnny chops down a bathroom door? Walter White dies? There’s another Hunger Games? Does any of this make sense? Some maybe more than others, depending on the story’s verisimilitude.Verisimilitude is the appearance of being true or real. In literature it’s how believable the author’s world is.

When establishing your own world as an author, consider the culture of your setting. What are the rules? Is this world scientific? Magical? What is the Climate? What do the characters believe in, if anything? What is the social baseline? Is the world realistic as we know it? Can animals talk? Building the world is absolutely critical. It sets the tone for the reader, and when done successfully, assimilates them further into the fantasy.

How can the author be successful? It starts in the beginning. Those first few chapters aren’t just exciting and attention grabbing. They let the reader know what they’re in for. Don’t give away all of surprises, but give a little taste. Sci-fi may make mention of laser guns, literary pieces may show subtle abnormalities in a character’s personality that will grow later on. Fantasy stories may have bit of folklore. Drop small hints to the audience seamlessly.

Throughout your manuscript grow and develop the elements you’ve established. Be sure to read over your work, keeping in mind that the reader doesn’t have all of the information that you do as the creator. If something isn’t connecting and making sense, edit as needed. That way by the end of your story it makes complete sense that Jacob ends up with his life long love’s daughter.