14 October 2022


Verisimilitude: the appearance of being true or real. The appearance.

It's what writers strive do in fiction. Harlan Ellison once said, "I want it to seem real ... to hold up the mirror of life and turn it slightly so you can see things from a new angle."

Create credible characters for readers to follow, to like, to hate, to worry about.

Give the reader fictional hyper-realism. Magic-realism. Hell, anything to show it, to elicit emotion in the reader. Fiction is liberating. It allows us to make up stuff, create people, create worlds, re-create our cities the way we want them to OR show the way they are through eyes with a different vision.

It's easy to screw this up by not paying attention to the details of life, by not showing those details, by taking the lazy way out – such as writing "it was sunny outside" instead of showing sunlight reflecting off a store's window. Pay attention. Observe life and take notes and give it back to the reader with the mirror tilted.

Crime fiction is realistic. The big problem I have, especially with movies, is characters acting illogically (better described as stupidly). I know people make mistakes and do screwy things, but leaving a machine gun on the ground and running off with a revolver with only two shots left in it isn't logical. Why didn't they take the bag of food? They haven't eaten in weeks. Why didn't they take a moment to fill up their canteen? Why don't they call the police right away?

Good ficiton is no easy to write. A writer just needs to give the appearance.

I've quoted Harlan before but I love this one: "I'm a professional liar, folks. I write fiction for a living. I make up weird crap and people pay me for it."

Other tidbits:

Did you know Mike Nesmith of The Monkees wrote "Different Drum" (recorded by The Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt)?

Did you know Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb (The Bee Gees) wrote "Islands in the Stream" (recorded by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton)?

Did you know Sony Curtis of The Crickets (of Buddy Holly and the Crickets) wrote "I Fought The Law" (recorded by The Bobby Fuller Four)?

Pretty sure we all know Neil Diamond wrote The Monkees hits "I'm a Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You."

That's all for now.


  1. great Harlan quote and true for us all- except maybe the part about payment!

  2. Love the quotes, and the tidbits too. I did NOT know that Neil Diamond wrote those two Monkees songs.

  3. Going undercover makes it easy to tell lies. Practice it sometime in a bar where no one knows you. But, like in writing, you'd best keep track of your lies or they will come back to bite you.

  4. Yes - lie like crazy, but also take notes. I've screwed up things a couple of times. I wrote a short-short years ago where Grant Tripp was married, which he isn't and I've ignored that story ever since.

  5. And Willie Nelson wrote the Patsy Cline song "Crazy"

  6. Elizabeth Dearborn14 October, 2022 14:25

    Allison Janney, who played "Lou" in the movie of the same name, said: "Listen, I'm an actor. I can make anyone believe anything. I don't have to know what the hell I'm talking about."

  7. Thanks for the comments. R. T. – I spent most of my working life in law enforcement but could never work undercover. I'm not cool enough. Besides, as the son of a cop, brother of a cop, with two first cousins cops – I walk like a cop, talk like a cop and since I rarely drink, I'm usually sober, which freaks people out. I'm always on. I remember, during one of my jobs between law enforcement jobs, I went to a large business meeting. When I approached the greetings table, I spoke and the young woman said, "Yes, officer. What can I do for you?"

  8. Looks like I found a way to comment on SleuthSayers. I have to log on via my URL.

  9. I used to create spur-of-the-moment vignettes in public places. Elevators are the best. I'd whisper to a colleague, "Find out what kind of acid… sulphuric, hydrohloric, nitric, whatever melts bones and hair. And… Hey! What are you gawking at?"

  10. Elizabeth Dearborn15 October, 2022 13:01

    Very funny, Leigh! An ex-boyfriend, who was an actor, & I used to do little psychodramas on the Wildwood boardwalk in New Jersey. It was great fun!

  11. Loved the bits and pieces and other comments, especially the one from the policeman who is often recognized.


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