Verisimilitude and the bitch in my head.

Verisimilitude according to the Oxford English Dictionary: 

 Verisimilitude [ver-uh-si-mil-i-tood {tyood}] – with the meaning “of being true or real” is a likeness or resemblance of the truth, reality or a fact’s probability. It comes from Latin verum meaning truth and similis meaning similar. 

Its root comes from the Platonic and Aristotelean dramatic theory of mimesis. or imitation and representation of nature. According to both philosophers; for a piece of art to hold significance or persuasion for an audience it must have a grounding in reality. The same is true for every lie, every book, every movie, something within it has to have a piece of reality attached.  Though, in books, the goal is to suspend the reader’s notion of reality-a moment of disbelief-in order to get them to believe what you’re telling them within the narrative.

It’s a bitch.

The whole notion. Every fucking thing about verisimilitude can bite me.

H.G. Wells was noted for his ability to describe something just enough for it to be plausible while Jules Verne tended to get overly detailed. The two authors had choice things to say about each other on the matter, but it’s worth noting that both were recognised for employing the general meaning of the word to their writing with exceptional skill. Recently Chuck Wendig asked us readers of his what our biggest problem is with writing. What is it that we get hung up on? He explained that it was for his benefit in understanding what other authors go through, for our benefit so he can tailor his blog posts (presumably) to help us out. 

I said my problem was plot.

This is partially true.  It is. I’ll get to that in a moment.

I also mentioned verisimilitude. I think I should have gone into a bit more detail, but I didn’t want to whine. I’m not a whiner.

I just get angry at myself and have learned to take things out on my blog.

So, for starters let’s go with verisimilitude. For all intents and purposes, this word means “a grounding in reality”.  If that’s the case, then what’s my issue? Seems simple enough, right? I mean, my book is set in New Orleans, Louisiana, right? Not a big deal.

Yeah, except it is.

Steampunk is great, and I’ve decided that’s what my genre is going to be. It’s not new, but it isn’t very old either. The term wasn’t coined until the late 80’s, even though both Wells and Verne are credited with the first steampunk stories and are the two authors people read when they’re first introduced to the genre. In a nutshell; steampunk is the Victorian Age revisted with technology that wouldn’t be seen under normal historical circumstances.  Which awesome. Automatons, gear work corsets, steam driven cars (hey, it’s possible) and the freedom to reinvent parts of history, because nerds can do stuff like that.  Magic can happen, so can time travel (Wells), airships (Verne),  I’ve seen steampunk with zombies for crying out loud. In fact, the supernatural stuff is more likely to happen in a steampunk universe, because, again, you’ve just rewritten history. Why the hell not?

I’m just a dumbass.

Check it out; anyone remember American Girl Dolls? Anyone? No? Google it. They’re SO much more awesome than Barbie. Helluva lot more expensive, but worth it.

When I was a kid living in Amman, Jordan, I was presented with an American Girl Doll. I got Felicity (Revolutionary War) while my little sister recieved Josephina (1800s, I believe). I was so freaking happy. Felicity was great! And you could get so much cool stuff from her section of the catalouge! All of the furniture, her clothes, even the money she came with meticulously recreated from the American Revolutionary War.

But wait. What was this?

There was a modern section! Holy shnikeys! I can get a computer? Wait, wait, wait! Aw, that is such a cute little outfit! But, wait, it’s from the modern day section (’98 or thereabouts). I can’t, it would be so weird (I did). No! That’s not right! Felicity belongs in the 1700s! I should stay in my timeline! Felicity doesn’t belong wearing jeans and a button down top with her hair in a ponytail! What is wrong with me!?

See that? That dear readers, is my thought process when it comes to history and what belongs where. 

I’m not crazy. Just particular. I think. Maybe a little crazy. I could be off my rocker and not know it.

My point is, even though the place is New Orleans around 1897; and I’ve researched my butt off to make sure I’ve got the correct restaurant on the correct street, and the correct hotel on the right corner, the fact that I have automatons mixed in with the supernatural makes me twitch.  I point you again to the American Girl Conundrum. The automaton thing really doesn’t bother me, I’m completely okay with it. It’s the fact that I have the supernatural in a historical setting  that is driving me nuts. Moreover it’s the way I have them come abouts that adds headache to an already throbbing migraine.

I’m so stuck on the reality of what I’m writing, that it clouds everything I do. I get an idea, an “oh, cool, that’ll explain what’s going on!” and I”ll write it down, and then what seemed like a logical explanation gets put under a microscope and turns into “they’ll never believe that crap” or “seriously, you expect someone to fall for that explanation?”

Same thing with plot. Same exact problem. All right, well, maybe not exact. The American Girl Conundrum isn’t really there in this one. The problem really lies with my inability to be confident with the plot line I do have. I just don’t think it’s good enough, or that people are going to care  or believe it enough to even bother picking up the story.

I just don’t.

I mean, part of me does. Part of me is absolutely thrilled (“oh dude, this is SO COOL”) with it. But the other part of me (the nitpicky-stuck-in-reality-part) is bound and determined to make me feel like crap for even picking up a pen or typing on my iPad.

“Please, no one is going to believe that

“Oh really? Yeah, that sounds good, but how do you expect to tie it in with the rest?”


“No. That isn’t going to work.”

“Um, yeah, I don’t think so. That’s like, not even possible.”

“This has been done before, you know.”

Jesus, it’s like having a Valley Girl bully in my head. All blond and caked on make up. It’s horrifying, really. Bitch needs to shut up and just let me write.

leg warmers sold separately


It doesn’t help that I’m scared half to death of my story. It sounds stupid, I know.  But, I’m actually terrified of writing this one. Like I said before, part of me really likes this story. I honestly, truly do, Blood on the Quarter is gonna be great. It’s sequel Ghost Trade is going to be just as awesome.

Just as soon as I can put pen to paper and get it down.

Part of it is sitting on paper. The other part on my iPad, and still more is swimming around singing showtunes in my head. I’m just having fun finding distractions so I don’t have to write it. 

I’ll get going and going and going and “awesome, one chapter down, this is what I need to write ne-oh look! Kitties!”

F%$k me!

It doesn’t help that my entire workplace has been turned on its head. The one place I could perform mundane acts and focus on my story (think Einstein in the Patent Office) has been taken away from me because of stupidity, and that I basically go home just to sleep, and get very few days off. Not so much conducive to writing. Sure, I’ve got stuff stored up there somewhere, but I’m too damned tired to write it down.

Next week is calmer, though and there’s a new flash fiction challenge. We’ll see where that takes me, and see if  a couple of days of really good sleep can make a dent in Blood on the Quarter.

And, of course, if the bitch in my head can shut up long enough so that I can finish the rough draft. This, above all things, would be a plus.


6 thoughts on “Verisimilitude and the bitch in my head.

  1. 1byline says:

    You teach me new stuff all the time. I’d never heard of Steampunk. Interesting. And the American Girl dolls really were cool or are. Marin got into Barbies, so it was hard to make a change. Your parents were smart.

  2. rjkeith says:

    Lol. I was into Barbie for the longest time. I think I really got into American Girls because the catalogue was so readily available in Jordan. They are still really expensive, but certainly a lot more educational, realistic, and more fun than Barbie ever was.

  3. bubbe says:

    Oh! Steampunk in New Orleans! It sounds fascinating! Send the bitch my way; I’ve been in a dry spell for a couple of years anyway. And if you like steampunk you need to check out That’s Jen’s (of CakeWrecks, if you’ve heard of that) other blog and she is all kinds of geeky, steampunky, crafty! She and her hubby made their own costumes and props for a con they attended a few months back. Awesome!

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