I just read this awesome post by Dean Wesley Smith, basically telling authors that we don’t have to drive ourselves crazy or be scared off by the idea of having to do research. The concept of verisimilitude, the appearance of something being true, is a very useful tool in fiction.
I can very much relate to his major points, because although I researched timelines, events and countries for WWII (for an example see my earlier post on the Special Operations Executive), there’s no way I could possibly “get” everything, and only then not all of my research found its way into the story.
And you know what? It shouldn’t.
My book is an urban fantasy, not a historical account or documentary. I take what fits, so as the reader walks through the world of the story it feels real– there’s verisimilitude for you 🙂 I include just enough facts and references so that you can believe that you’re journeying with my heroine through the summer of 1941 from London to Nazi-occupied Paris without feeling you’re getting a dry history lecture or the notion that I’m trying to show off my fancy research skills.
I also didn’t like the idea of constantly “name dropping” if you will, of historical figures–another temptation. The character Jasmine Léon is obviously modeled after the famous singer and performer Josephine Baker who was a heroine of the French Resistance in her own right. Could I have made Jasmine Josephine? Er…sure. But I felt it just wouldn’t work for me. If I did, I would be questioning “Would Josephine really say something like this?” “What was she actually like as a person?” “How closely or accurately do I have to follow her life?”
Why give myself the headache?
So today’s word is…verisimilitude.
Let me know what you think!