Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Verisimilitude: Writing Truth is Hard Work

To most people, it would not seem like much of a job, hunched over a typewriter late at night, writing . . . . To me, it was a blessing . . . . In time, it dawned on me that I lingered over that old typewriter longer than was healthy for an eighteen-year-old boy, that I lingered over sentences, searching my mind for the images and details that could make those disjointed words from the faded typewriter ribbon take on color and life.--Rick Bragg, All Over But the Shoutin’. New York: Vintage, 1997. 122.

What a simple, perfect way to describe a characteristic of literature: verisimilitude. Whether fiction or nonfiction, we look to writers to render truth in words, to give us the color of experience, and hold up a mirror to life itself.

What lonely labor.

What challenging work.

Transforming the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and textures of a thing isn’t easy.

Search your minds for the images and details that make three dimensions from two.

Reading Challenge:

Read more about verisimilitude in Verisimilitude: Artistic Voyeurism.

Writing Challenge:

Observe closely a moment in time. Then render its truth in words. Rick Bragg began by writing about moments in sports. Choose a highlight from the game you know best and begin.

Connye Griffin is My Writing and Editing Coach.