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Fiction is any
creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, writing (literature), filmmaking, and music, composition. Le ...

creative work
, chiefly any
narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a written Writing is a medium of human communication Comm ...

narrative
work, portraying people, events, or places in
imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The Imaginary (psychoanalysis), a concept by Jacques Lacan * Imaginary number, a concept in mathematics * Imaginary time, a concept in physics * Imagination, a mental faculty ...

imaginary
ways that are not strictly based on
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

history
or
fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things ...
.William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman ''A Handbook to Literature'' (7th edition). New York: Prentice Hall, 1990, p. 212 In its most narrow usage, ''fiction'' applies to
written narratives Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writing systems are not themselves human languages (with the debatable exception of computer languages); they are means of renderin ...

written narratives
in
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions ...

prose
and often specifically
novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a written ...

novel
s, as well as
novella A novella is a narrative prose fiction whose length is shorter than that of most novels, but longer than most short stories. The English word ''novella'' derives from the Italian ''novella'', feminine of ''novello'', which means "new". Definiti ...

novella
s and
short stories A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a single effect or mood. The short story is one of the oldest ty ...
. More broadly, however, fiction has come to encompass imaginary narratives expressed in any
medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), tools used to store and deliver information or data * Medium of i ...
, including not just writings but also
live theatrical performances
live theatrical performances
,
film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, ...

film
s,
television program A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set A Sony Wega CRT television set A television set or television receiver, more commonly called the television, TV, TV set, tube, telly, or te ...
s,
radio dramas Radio drama (or audio drama, audio play, radio play, radio theatre, or audio theatre) is a dramatized, purely acoustic performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment. It is also def ...
,
comics a medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), tools used to store and deliver information or d ...

comics
,
role-playing games A role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game; abbreviated RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of player character, characters in a fictional Setting (narrative), setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these r ...
, and
video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generate visual f ...
s.


Definition

The creation of a work of fiction implies the construction of an imaginary world. Typically, the fictionality of the work is publicly acknowledged and the audience expects the work to deviate in some ways from the real world rather than presenting only factually accurate portrayals or
characters Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * Character (novel), ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk * Characters (Theophrastus), ''Characters'' (Theophrastus), a classical Greek set of char ...
who are actual people. Because fiction is generally understood to not fully adhere to the real world, the
themes Theme or themes may refer to: * Theme (arts), the unifying subject or idea of the type of visual work * Theme (Byzantine district), an administrative district in the Byzantine Empire governed by a Strategos * Theme (computing), a custom graphical a ...
and context of a work, such as if and how it relates to real-world issues or events, are open to interpretation. Characters and events within some fictional works may even exist in their own context entirely separate from the known physical universe: an independent
fictional universe A fictional universe, or fictional world, is a self-consistent In classical deductive logic Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, is the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logical conclusion. Deduc ...
. In contrast to fiction, creators of
non-fiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document or content (media), media content that intends, in good faith, to present only truth and accuracy regarding information, events, or people. Nonfictional content may be presented either Objecti ...
works assume responsibility for presenting only the historical and factual truth. Despite the traditional distinction between fiction and non-fiction, some modern works blur this boundary, particularly ones that fall under certain
experimental An experiment is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method ...
storytelling genres—including some
postmodern fiction Postmodern literature is a form of literature that is characterized by the use of metafiction, unreliable narrator, unreliable narration, self-reflexivity, intertextuality, and which often thematizes both historical and political issues. This style ...
,
autofiction In literary criticism, autofiction is a form of fictionalized autobiography. Serge Doubrovsky coined the term in 1977 with reference to his novel ''Fils''. Philippe Vilain distinguishes autofiction from autobiographical novels in that autofiction ...
, or
creative nonfiction Creative nonfiction (also known as literary nonfiction or narrative nonfiction or literary journalism or verfabula) is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Creative nonfiction contrast ...
like
non-fiction novel The non-fiction novel is a literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, setting tone, tone, Content (media), content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length. They gener ...
s and
docudrama A docudrama (or documentary drama) is a genre of Radio programming, radio and television show, television programming, feature film, and staged theatre, which features Drama (film and television), dramatized Historical reenactment, re-enactments ...
s—as well as deliberate
literary fraud Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expande ...
s, which are falsely marketed as nonfiction.


Formats

Traditionally, fiction includes novels, short stories,
fable Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse (poetry), verse, that features animals, legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are Anthropomorphism, anthropomorphized, and that illustrate ...
s,
legend A legend is a genre of folklore that consists of a narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfictional ( memoir, biography, news report, documentary, Travel literature, tra ...

legend
s,
myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...
s,
fairy tale A fairy tale, fairytale, wonder tale, magic tale, fairy story or ''Märchen'' is an instance of European folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common ...

fairy tale
s,
epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media ...
and
narrative poetry Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbo ...
,
plays Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital content service * Play Framework, a Java framework * Play ...
(including
operas Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific ...
,
musicals Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U ...
,
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a ...

drama
s,
puppet play Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance that involves the manipulation of puppets – inanimate objects, often resembling some type of human or animal figure, that are animated or manipulated by a human called a puppeteer. Such a performance ...
s, and various kinds of theatrical dances). However, fiction may also encompass
comic book A comic book, also called comic book, comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics a Media (communication), medium used to express ideas with images, often combined with t ...
s, and many
animated cartoon Animation is a method in which figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent celluloid sheets to be photographed and exhibited on film A film, also ca ...
s,
stop motion Stop motion is an animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be photographed and exh ...

stop motion
s,
anime is Traditional animation, hand-drawn and computer animation originating from Japan. In Japan and in Japanese, (a term derived from the English language, English word ''animation'') describes all animated works, regardless of style or origi ...

anime
,
manga Manga (Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...

manga
,
films A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through the use of moving images. These imag ...
, video games,
radio programsA radio program, radio programme or radio show is a segment of content intended for broadcast on radio. It may be a one-time production or part of a periodically recurring series. A single program in a series is called an episode. Radio networks I ...
, television programs (
comedies Comedy (from the el, wikt:κωμῳδία, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction consisting of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television ...
and
dramas Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
), etc. The
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
has had a major impact on the creation and distribution of fiction, calling into question the feasibility of
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
as a means to ensure
royalties A royalty payment is a payment made by one party to another that owns a particular asset, for the right to ongoing use of that asset. Royalties are typically agreed upon as a percentage of gross or net revenues derived from the use of an asset o ...

royalties
are paid to copyright holders. Also, digital libraries such as
Project Gutenberg Project Gutenberg (PG) is a volunteer Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, educati ...
make
public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, wr ...

public domain
texts more readily available. The combination of inexpensive home computers, the Internet, and the creativity of its users has also led to new forms of fiction, such as interactive
computer game A PC game, also known as a computer game or personal computer game, is a type of video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, ...
s or computer-generated comics. Countless forums for
fan fiction Fan fiction or fanfiction (also abbreviated to fan fic, fanfic, fic or ff) is fictional writing written in an amateur An amateur (; ; ) is generally considered a person who pursues an avocation independent from their source of income. Amateurs an ...
can be found online, where loyal followers of specific fictional realms create and distribute derivative stories. The Internet is also used for the development of blog fiction, where a story is delivered through a
blog A blog (a truncation In mathematics and computer science, truncation is limiting the number of numerical digit, digits right of the decimal point. Truncation and floor function Truncation of positive real numbers can be done using the f ...
either as flash fiction or serial blog, and
collaborative fiction Collaborative fiction is a form of writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writing systems are not themselves human languages (with the debatable exception of co ...
, where a story is written sequentially by different authors, or the entire text can be revised by anyone using a
wiki A wiki ( ) is a hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a or other with references () to other text that the reader can immediately access. Hypertext documents are interconnected by hyperlinks, which are typically activated b ...

wiki
. Types of
literary fiction Literary fiction is a controversial label that, in the book trade, refers to market novels which do not fit neatly into an established genre (see genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for f ...
in prose are distinguished by relative length and include: * Short story: the boundary between a long short story and a novella is vague, though a short story is commonly fewer than 7,500 words * Novella: 17,500 to 40,000 words long is typical; examples include
Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson (born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson; 13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer. He is best known for works such as ''Treasure Island ''Treasure Island'' (origi ...

Robert Louis Stevenson
's ''
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde ''Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'' is a Gothic fiction, Gothic novella by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, first published in 1886. The work is also known as ''The Strange Case of Jekyll Hyde'', ''Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'', or simpl ...
'' (1886) or
Joseph Conrad Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, ; 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924) was a Polish-British writer regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. Though he did not speak English fluently u ...

Joseph Conrad
's ''
Heart of Darkness ''Heart of Darkness'' (1899) is a novella by Poles in the United Kingdom#18th–19th centuries, Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad about a narrated voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State in the ''Heart of Africa''. Charles Marlo ...

Heart of Darkness
'' (1899) * Novel: 40,000 words or more in length


Genre fiction

Fiction is commonly broken down into a variety of
genres Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, category of literature, ...
: subsets of fiction, each differentiated by a particular unifying
tone Tone may refer to: Color-related * Tone, mix of tint and shade, in painting and color theory * Tone, the lightness Lightness is a visual perception of the luminance (L) of an object. It is often judged relative to a similarly lit object. ...
or
style Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. It is a sub-cla ...
; set of
narrative technique A narrative technique (known for literary fictional narratives as a literary technique, literary device, or fictional device) is any of several specific methods the creator of a narrative uses to convey what they want —in other words, a stra ...
s,
archetype The concept of an archetype (; from Greek: + ) appears in areas relating to behavior, History of psychology#Emergence of German experimental psychology, historical psychology, and literary analysis. An ''archetype'' can be: # a statement, patter ...
s, or other tropes; media content; or other popularly defined criterion.
Science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, Parall ...

Science fiction
, for example, predicts or supposes technologies that are not realities at the time of the work's creation:
Jules Verne Jules Gabriel Verne (;''Longman Pronunciation Dictionary John Christopher Wells (born 11 March 1939) is a British Phonetics, phonetician and Esperantist. Wells is a professor emeritus at University College London, where until his retirement ...

Jules Verne
's novel ''
From the Earth to the Moon ''From the Earth to the Moon: A Direct Route in 97 Hours, 20 Minutes'' (french: De la Terre à la Lune, trajet direct en 97 heures 20 minutes) is an 1865 novel by Jules Verne Jules Gabriel Verne (;''Longman Pronunciation Dictionary''. ; 8 Fe ...
'' was published in 1865 while in 1969 astronauts
Neil Armstrong Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut An astronaut (from the Greek "astron" (ἄστρον), meaning "star", and "nautes" (ναύτης), meaning "sailor") is a person trained, equipp ...

Neil Armstrong
and
Buzz Aldrin Buzz Aldrin (; born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., January 20, 1930) is an American former astronaut, engineer and fighter pilot. Aldrin made three extravehicular activity, spacewalks as pilot of the 1966 Gemini 12 mission, and as the lunar module ...

Buzz Aldrin
became the first persons to land on the Moon.
Historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction#REDIRECT historical fiction Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is commonly used as a synonym for the ...
places imaginary characters into real historical events. In the 1814 historical novel '' Waverley'',
Sir Walter Scott Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832), was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright and historian. Many of his works remain classics of European and Scottish literature Scottish literature is literatu ...
's fictional character Edward Waverley meets a figure from history,
Bonnie Prince Charlie Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart (20 December 1720 – 30 January 1788) was the elder son of James Francis Edward Stuart James Francis Edward Stuart (10 June 16881 January 1766), nicknamed The O ...

Bonnie Prince Charlie
, and takes part in the
Battle of Prestonpans The Battle of Prestonpans, also known as the Battle of Gladsmuir, was fought on 21 September 1745, near Prestonpans, in East Lothian East Lothian (; sco, East Lowden; gd, Lodainn an Ear) is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, as ...

Battle of Prestonpans
. Some works of fiction are slightly or greatly re-imagined based on some originally true story, or a reconstructed biography. Often, even when the fictional story is based on fact, there may be additions and subtractions from the true story to make it more interesting. An example is Tim O'Brien's ''
The Things They Carried ''The Things They Carried'' (1990) is a collection of linked short stories by American novelist Tim O'Brien, about a platoon A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads, sections, or patrols. Platoon organization ...

The Things They Carried
'', a 1990 series of
short stories A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a single effect or mood. The short story is one of the oldest ty ...
about the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
. Fictional works that explicitly involve supernatural, magical, or scientifically impossible elements are often classified under the genre of
fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy lit ...

fantasy
, including
Lewis Carroll Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (; 27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English writer of children's fiction, notably ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' and its sequel ''Through the Looking-Glass'' ...

Lewis Carroll
's 1865 novel ''
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' (commonly shortened to ''Alice in Wonderland'') is an 1865 English novel, novel by English author Lewis Carroll (the pseudonym of Charles Dodgson). It tells of a young girl named Alice (Alice's Adventures i ...
'', J. R. R. Tolkien's ''
The Lord of the Rings ''The Lord of the Rings'' is an Epic (genre), epic high-fantasy novel by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in Middle-earth, intended to be Earth at some distant time in the past, the story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 ...
'', and
J. K. Rowling Joanne Rowling ( ;Rowling, J.K. (16 February 2007). Accio Quote (accio-quote.org). Retrieved 28 April 2008. born 31 July 1965), better known by her pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym ( ...
's ''
Harry Potter ''Harry Potter'' is a series of seven fantasy literature, fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young Magician (fantasy), wizard, Harry Potter (character), Harry Potter, and his friends H ...

Harry Potter
'' series. Creators of fantasy sometimes introduce imaginary creatures and beings such as dragons and fairies.


Literary fiction

The definition of literary fiction is controversial. In the book trade, it is used to market novels which do not fit neatly into an established genre (see
genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determi ...
). Other definitions are that a novel is literary fiction if it is character-driven rather than plot-driven, or if it examines the human condition, or if it uses language in an experimental or poetic fashion, or simply if it is "serious". Literary fiction is often used as a synonym for
literature Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entitie ...

literature
, in the narrow sense of writings specifically considered to be an
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use ...

art
form. While literary fiction is sometimes regarded as superior to genre fiction, the two are not mutually exclusive, and major literary figures have employed the genres of science fiction,
crime fiction Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel are terms used to describe narratives that centre on criminal acts and especially on the investigation, either by an amateur or a professional detective, of a seriou ...
,
romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...
, etc, to create works of literature. Furthermore, the study of genre fiction has developed within academia in recent decades. The term is sometimes used such as to equate literary fiction to literature. The accuracy of this is debated.
Neal Stephenson Neal Town Stephenson (born October 31, 1959) is an American writer known for his works of speculative fiction. His novels have been categorized as science fiction File:Imagination 195808.jpg, Space exploration, as predicted in August 1958 in ...

Neal Stephenson
has suggested that while any definition will be simplistic there is today a general cultural difference between literary and genre fiction. On the one hand literary authors nowadays are frequently supported by patronage, with employment at a university or a similar institution, and with the continuation of such positions determined not by book sales but by critical acclaim by other established literary authors and critics. On the other hand, he suggests, genre fiction writers tend to support themselves by book sales. However, in an interview,
John Updike John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009) was an American novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic An art critic is a person who is specialized in analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating art. Their written critiques or reviews ...
lamented that "the category of 'literary fiction' has sprung up recently to torment people like me who just set out to write books, and if anybody wanted to read them, terrific, the more the merrier. ... I'm a genre writer of a sort. I write literary fiction, which is like spy fiction or chick lit". Likewise, on ''
The Charlie Rose Show ''The Charlie Rose Show'' is an American television interview and talk show, with Charlie Rose as executive producer, executive editor, and host. The show was syndicated on PBS until 2017 and is owned by Charlie Rose, Inc. Rose interviewed thin ...
'', he argued that this term, when applied to his work, greatly limited him and his expectations of what might come of his writing, so he does not really like it. He suggested that all his works are literary, simply because "they are written in words". Literary fiction often involves
social commentary Social commentary is the act of using rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. R ...
,
political criticism Political criticism (also referred to as political commentary or political discussion) is criticism Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something. *The judger is called a ''critic A critic is a professional who com ...
, or reflection on the
human condition The human condition is all of the characteristics and key events that compose the essentials of human existence, including birth Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring, also referred to in technical contexts as par ...
. In general it focuses on "introspective, in-depth character studies" of "interesting, complex and developed" characters. This contrasts with genre fiction where plot is the central concern. Usually in literary fiction the focus is on the "inner story" of the characters who drive the plot, with detailed motivations to elicit "emotional involvement" in the reader. The style of literary fiction is often described as "elegantly written, lyrical, and ... layered". The tone of literary fiction can be darker than genre fiction, while the pacing of literary fiction may be slower than popular fiction. As
Terrence Rafferty Terrence Rafferty is a film critic who wrote regularly for ''The New Yorker'' during the 1990s. His writing has also appeared in ''Slate (magazine), Slate'', ''The Atlantic Monthly'', ''The Village Voice'', ''The Nation'', and ''The New York Times ...
notes, "literary fiction, by its nature, allows itself to dawdle, to linger on stray beauties even at the risk of losing its way".


Realism

Realistic fiction typically involves a story whose basic
setting Setting may refer to: * A location (geography) where something is set * Set construction in theatrical scenery * Setting (narrative), the place and time in a work of narrative, especially fiction * Setting up to fail a manipulative technique to engi ...
(time and location in the world) is real and whose events could feasibly happen in a real-world setting; in contrast, speculative fiction typically involves a story where the opposite is the case, often being set in an entirely
imaginary universe A fictional universe, or fictional world, is a Consistency, self-consistent Setting (narrative), setting with events, and often other elements, that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed, or fictional realm ...
, an alternative history of the world other than that currently understood as true, or some other non-existent location or time-period, sometimes even presenting impossible technology or defiance of the currently understood laws of nature. However, all types of fiction arguably invite their audience to explore real ideas, issues, or possibilities in an otherwise imaginary setting or using what is understood about reality to mentally construct something similar to reality, though still distinct from it. In terms of the traditional separation between fiction and non-fiction, the lines are now commonly understood as blurred, showing more overlap than mutual exclusion. Even fiction usually has elements of or grounding in, truth. The distinction between the two may be best defined from the perspective of the audience, according to whom a work is regarded as non-fiction if its people, places, and events are all historically or factually real, while a work is regarded as fiction if it deviates from reality in any of those areas. The distinction between fiction and non-fiction is further obscured by an understanding, on the one hand, that the truth can be presented through imaginary channels and constructions, while, on the other hand, imagination can just as well bring about significant conclusions about truth and reality. Literary critic James Wood (critic), James Wood, argues that "fiction is both artifice and verisimilitude (narrative), verisimilitude", meaning that it requires both creative inventions as well as some acceptable degree of believability,Wood, James. 2008. ''How Fiction Works. '' New York. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. p. xiii. a notion often encapsulated in poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge's term: willing suspension of disbelief. Also, infinite fictional possibilities themselves signal the impossibility of fully knowing reality, provocatively demonstrating that there is no criterion to measure constructs of reality.


See also

* Cartoonist * Fiction writing * History of literature * Pseudohistory


Notes


References


Further reading

*


External links


Kate Colquhoun on the blurred boundaries between fiction and non-fiction

Example of a Serial Blog/Short Story Magazine

Subhasis Chattopadhyay, 'Claiming the Domain of the Literary: Mourning the Death of Reading Fiction, ''Prabuddha Bharata or Awakened India'' 121 (6) (June 2016): 505 – 11
{{Authority control Fiction, Genres