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What is Verisimilitude?

Verisimilitude refers to when a piece of work appears true and realistic.

A magical portal in a closet leads to a different world. Seems legit.

 

Any type of writing is best when it is believable. When we read fantasy or futuristic stories it is easy to take them as fact when we get absorbed into the worlds the authors create. Think about it- when you read books like Harry Potter, Narnia,  etc. everything that happens in the stories seems real. It is only when you close the book and take a step back that you realize “hmm, that whole magic thing might not actually be so plausible.” It’s not like we all go around opening up our friend’s closets to see if there’s a portal to Narnia in there (okay, maybe just that one time).  So why is it that when you read those stories, everything seems so real and like it could actually happen? The answer: verisimilitude. This device comes from the Latin words “verum” and “similis” which translate to “truth” and “similar.” In writing, verisimilitude refers to the ability of the work to appear true and realistic. Basically, this means that the writing makes sense because all the elements like plot, imagery, dialogue, setting, and so on work together to create a coherent story. Good writers, whether they create a poem, novel, or script for a movie must keep in mind that in order to have a responsive audience, their work needs to have a sense of verisimilitude. True dat. 

 

Do these poems seem realistic to you? Or do the authors need you to school them in verisimilitude? 

Bright Star

BY JOHN KEATS

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--

No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever--or else swoon to death. 

Flying Inside Your Own Body

BY MARGARET ATWOOD

Your lungs fill & spread themselves,

wings of pink blood, and your bones

empty themselves and become hollow.

When you breathe in you’ll lift like a balloon

and your heart is light too & huge,

beating with pure joy, pure helium.

The sun’s white winds blow through you,

there’s nothing above you,

you see the earth now as an oval jewel,

radiant & seablue with love.

It’s only in dreams you can do this.

Waking, your heart is a shaken fist,

a fine dust clogs the air you breathe in;

the sun’s a hot copper weight pressing straight

down on the think pink rind of your skull.

It’s always the moment just before gunshot.

You try & try to rise but you cannot.          

 
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