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Fiction is any creative work, chiefly any
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, travelogue, etc.) or fictional (fairy tale, fable, legend, thriller (ge ...
work, portraying
individuals An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity. Individuality (or self-hood) is the state or quality of being an individual; particularly (in the case of humans) of being a person unique from other people and possessing one's own Maslow ...
, events, or places that are imaginary, or in ways that are imaginary. Fictional portrayals are thus inconsistent with
history History (derived ) is the systematic study and the documentation of the human activity. The time period of event before the invention of writing systems is considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as we ...
, fact, or plausibility. In a traditional narrow sense, "fiction" refers to written narratives in
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language that follows the natural speech, natural flow of speech, uses a language's ordinary Grammar, grammatical structures, or follows the conventions of formal academic writing. It differs from most traditio ...
often referring specifically to
novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself ...
s,
novella A novella is a narrative prose fiction whose length is shorter than most novels, but longer than most Short story, short stories. The English word ''novella'' derives from the Italian ''novella'' meaning a short story related to true (or apparen ...
s, and short stories. More broadly, however, fiction encompasses imaginary narratives expressed in any medium, including not just writings but also live theatrical performances,
film A film also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere ...
s, television programs, radio dramas,
comics a Media (communication), medium used to express ideas with images, often combined with text or other visual information. It typically the form of a sequence of Panel (comics), panels of images. Textual devices such as speech balloons, Glo ...
, role-playing games, and
video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games 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 gener ...
s.


Definition

Typically, the fictionality of a work is publicly marketed and so the audience expects the work to deviate in some ways from the real world rather than presenting, for instance, only factually accurate portrayals or characters who are actual people. Because fiction is generally understood to not fully adhere to the real world, the themes 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 setting with events, and often other elements, that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed, or fictional realm (or world). Fictional universes m ...
. The creative art of constructing an imaginary world is known as
worldbuilding Worldbuilding is the process of constructing a world, originally an imaginary one, sometimes associated with a fictional universe. Developing an imaginary setting with coherent qualities such as a history, Fictional geography, geography, and eco ...
. In contrast to fiction, creators of
non-fiction Nonfiction, or non-fiction, is any document or content (media), media content that attempts, in good faith, to provide information (and sometimes opinions) grounded only in facts and real life, rather than in imagination. Nonfiction is often ass ...
works assume responsibility for presenting only information (and sometimes opinion) based in historical and factual reality. Despite the traditional distinction between fiction and non-fiction, some modern works blur this boundary, particularly ones that fall under certain experimental storytelling genres—including some postmodern fiction, autofiction, or creative nonfiction like non-fiction novels and docudramas—as well as the deliberate literary fraud of falsely marketing fiction as nonfiction.


History

Storytelling has existed in all human cultures, and each culture incorporates different elements of truth and fiction into storytelling. Early fiction was closely associated with history and
myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of Narrative, narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or Origin myth, origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not Objectivity (philosophy), ...
. Greek poets such as
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
,
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is generally regarded by western authors as 'the first written poet i ...
, and
Aesop Aesop ( or ; , ; c. 620–564 BCE) was a Greeks, Greek wikt:fabulist, fabulist and Oral storytelling, storyteller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as ''Aesop's Fables''. Although his existence remains unclear and no wr ...
developed fictional stories that were told first through
oral storytelling Oral storytelling is an ancient and intimate tradition between the storyteller and their audience. The storyteller and the listeners are physically close, often seated together in a circular fashion. The intimacy and connection is deepened by t ...
and then in writing. Prose fiction was developed in
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
, influenced by the storytelling traditions of Asia and Egypt. Distinctly fictional work was not recognized as separate from historical or mythological stories until the imperial period. Plasmatic narrative, following entirely invented characters and events, was developed through ancient
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 g ...
and
New Comedy Ancient Greek comedy was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the Theatre of ancient Greece, theatre of classical Greece (the others being tragedy and the satyr play). Classical Athens, Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into ...
. One common structure among early fiction is a series of strange and fantastic adventures as early writers test the limits of fiction writing. Milesian tales were an early example of fiction writing in Ancient Greece and Italy. As fiction writing developed in Ancient Greece, relatable characters and plausible scenarios were emphasized to better connect with the audience, including elements such as romance,
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, v ...
, and religious ceremonies. Heroic romance was developed in
medieval Europe In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
, incorporating elements associated with
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 ...
, including
supernatural Supernatural refers to phenomena or entities that are beyond the laws of nature. The term is derived from Medieval Latin , from Latin (above, beyond, or outside of) + (nature) Though the corollary term "nature", has had multiple meanings si ...
elements and
chivalry Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is an informal and varying code of conduct developed in Europe between 1170 and 1220. It was associated with the medieval Christian institution of knighthood; knights' and gentlemen's behaviours were governed b ...
. The structure of the modern novel was developed by
Miguel de Cervantes Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (; 29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616 Old Style and New Style dates, NS) was an Early Modern Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's pre-emin ...
with ''
Don Quixote is a Spanish literature, Spanish Epic (genre), epic novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Originally published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615, its full title is ''The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha'' or, in Spanish, (changing in Part 2 ...
'' in the early-17th century. The novel became a primary medium of fiction in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were often associated with Enlightenment ideas such as
empiricism In philosophy, empiricism is an Epistemology, epistemological theory that holds that knowledge or justification comes only or primarily from Empirical evidence, sensory experience. It is one of several views within epistemology, along with ra ...
and
agnosticism Agnosticism is the view or belief that the existence of God, of the divinity, divine or the supernatural is unknown or Uncertainty, unknowable. (page 56 in 1967 edition) Another definition provided is the view that "human reason is incapable o ...
. Realism developed as a literary style at this time. New forms of mass media developed in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, including popular-fiction magazines and early film. Interactive fiction was developed in the late-20th century through video games.


Elements


Character

Characters are the main actors within a work of fiction that carry out the story. They typically take the form of humans with names, identities, and character traits, and they typically engage in actions and speech to convey their motives. Characters may be entirely imaginary, or they may have a basis in real-life individuals. In literary fiction, study of the characters is the work's purpose. Memorable characters provide value and iconography to fictional stories. Fictional characters can be perceived similarly to real people by the audience. First impressions are influential in how a character is initially perceived, while familiarity with a character results in expected behaviors. Characters that behave contrary to their previous characterization can be confusing or jarring to the audience. The audience can also form social connections with characters, feeling for them as if they were real.


Plot

Plot is the sequence of events that occurs in a work of fiction. It occurs through cause and effect in which actions produce reactions and cause the story to progress. The plot often corresponds to a conflict between characters or within a character and presents stakes that are at risk within the story. Plot is structured through a series of scenes in which related events occur that lead to subsequent scenes. These events form plot points that cause changes to the story or the character.


Setting

Setting is the time, place, and circumstance in which a story takes place. It includes the physical surroundings that the characters experience and the social conventions that affect characters. The setting may resemble a character in that it has specific traits, undergoes actions that affect the plot, and develops over the course of the story.


Theme

Theme is the underlying idea or message presented by a work. It is more abstract than other elements and can be applied to other circumstances as a broader concept. Theme is a subjective element that is interpreted by the audience and may or may not be intended by the work's creator. The audience may come to different conclusions about a work's theme or develop new ideas about its theme as the work progresses.


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 illustrat ...
s,
legend A legend is a Folklore genre, genre of folklore that consists of a narrative featuring human actions, believed or perceived, both by teller and listeners, to have taken place in human history. Narratives in this genre may demonstrate human valu ...
s,
myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of Narrative, narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or Origin myth, origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not Objectivity (philosophy), ...
s,
fairy tale A fairy tale (alternative names include fairytale, fairy story, magic tale, or wonder tale) is a short story that belongs to the folklore genre. Such stories typically feature magic (paranormal), magic, incantation, enchantments, and mythical ...
s, epic and
narrative poetry Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound sy ...
, plays (including
operas Opera is a form of theatre in which music is a fundamental component and dramatic roles are taken by Singing, singers. Such a "work" (the literal translation of the Italian word "opera") is typically a collaboration between a composer and a ...
, musicals,
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 g ...
s, puppet plays, and various kinds of theatrical dances). However, fiction may also encompass
comic book A comic book, also called comicbook, comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panel (comics), panels that represent individual scenes. ...
s, and many
animated cartoon Animation is a method by which image, still figures are manipulated to appear as Motion picture, moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be photographed and exhibited ...
s,
stop motion Stop motion is an animation, animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion or change when the series ...
s,
anime is Traditional animation, hand-drawn and computer animation, computer-generated animation originating from Japan. Outside of Japan and in English, ''anime'' refers specifically to animation produced in Japan. However, in Japan and in Japane ...
,
manga Manga (Japanese language, Japanese: 漫画 ) are comics or graphic novels originating from Japan. Most manga conform to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century, and the form has a long prehistory in earlier Japanese art. The term ...
,
films A film also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmospher ...
,
video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games 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 gener ...
s, radio programs, television programs (
comedies Comedy is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television, radio, books, Entertainment, or any other entertainment medium. T ...
and dramas), 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 '' network of networks'' that consists of private, p ...
has had a major impact on the creation and distribution of fiction, calling into question the feasibility of
copyright A copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to copy, distribute, adapt, display, and perform a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, education ...
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 ...
are paid to copyright holders. Also,
digital libraries A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online database of digital objects that can include text, still images, audio, video, digital documents, or other digital ...
such as
Project Gutenberg Project Gutenberg (PG) is a Virtual volunteering, volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, as well as to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks." It was founded in 1971 by American writer Michael S. Hart and is the ...
make
public domain The public domain (PD) consists of all the creative work to which no Exclusive exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable. Because those rights have ...
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 Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games 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 gener ...
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 ...
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 Clipping (morphology), truncation of "weblog") is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts). Posts are typically displayed in Reverse ...
either as flash fiction or serial blog, and collaborative fiction, where a story is written sequentially by different authors, or the entire text can be revised by anyone using a
wiki A wiki ( ) is an online hypertext publication Collaborative editing, collaboratively edited and managed by its own audience, using a web browser. A typical wiki contains multiple pages for the subjects or scope of the project, and could be ...
.


Literary fiction

The definition of literary fiction is controversial. It may refer to any work of fiction in a written form. However, various other definitions exist, including a written work of fiction that: *does not fit neatly into an established genre (as opposed to so-called
genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fiction, fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre ...
), when used as a marketing label in the book trade *is character-driven rather than plot-driven *examines the human condition *uses language in an experimental or poetic fashion *is considered seriously as a work of art Literary fiction is often used as a synonym for
literature Literature 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 expanded to ...
, in the narrow sense of writings specifically considered to be an
art Art is a diverse range of human activity, and resulting product, that involves creative or imaginative talent expressive of technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of wha ...
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 crime, ...
, romance, 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, historical fiction, cyberpunk, postcyberpunk, and baroque. Stephenson's work exp ...
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, and literary critic. One of only four writers to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once (the others being Booth Tar ...
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'', 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 rhetorical means to provide commentary on social, cultural, political, or economic issues in a society. This is often done with the idea of implementing or promoting change by informing the general populace ab ...
,
political criticism Political criticism (also referred to as political commentary or political discussion) is criticism that is specific of or relevant to politics, including policies, politicians, political parties, and types of government. See also

*Bad Subjec ...
, or reflection on the
human condition The human condition is all of the characteristics and key events of human life, including childbirth, birth, learning, emotion, aspiration, morality, conflict, and death. This is a very broad topic that has been and continues to be pondered and ...
. 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 notes, "literary fiction, by its nature, allows itself to dawdle, to linger on stray beauties even at the risk of losing its way".


Genre fiction

Based on how literary fiction is defined, genre fiction may be a subset (written fiction that aligns to a particular genre), or its opposite: an evaluative label for written fiction that comprises
popular culture Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society as a set of cultural practice, practices, beliefs, artistic output (also known as, popular art or mass art) and cultural objects, objects ...
, as artistically or intellectually inferior to
high culture High culture is a subculture that emphasizes and encompasses the culture, cultural objects of aesthetic value, which a society collectively esteem as exemplary art, and the Intellectualism, intellectual works of philosophy, history, art, and lite ...
. Regardless, fiction is commonly broken down into a variety of genres: categories of fiction, each differentiated by a particular unifying tone or
style Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style, the features that make a building or structure historically identifiable * Design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or ...
; set of
narrative technique A narrative technique (known for literary fiction Literary fiction, mainstream fiction, non-genre fiction or serious fiction is a label that, in the book trade, refers to market novels that do not fit neatly into an established genre (see genre fi ...
s,
archetype The concept of an archetype (; ) appears in areas relating to behavior, History of psychology#Emergence of German experimental psychology, historical psychology, and literary analysis. An archetype can be any of the following: # a statement, pat ...
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, Paral ...
predicts or supposes technologies that are not realities at the time of the work's creation:
Jules Verne Jules Gabriel Verne (;'' Longman Pronunciation Dictionary''. ; 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the '' Voyages ex ...
'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. It tells the story of the Baltimore Gun Club, a post-American Civil W ...
'' was published in 1865, but only in 1969 did astronauts
Neil Armstrong Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut and aerospace engineering, aeronautical engineer who became the Apollo 11#Lunar surface operations, first person to walk on the Moon in 1969. He was als ...
and
Buzz Aldrin Buzz Aldrin (; born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr.; January 20, 1930) is an American former astronaut, engineer and fighter pilot. He made three extravehicular activity, spacewalks as pilot of the 1966 Gemini 12 mission. As the Lunar Module Eagle, ...
become the first humans to land on the Moon.
Historical fiction Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a Setting (narrative), setting related to the past events, but is fictional. Although the term is commonly used as a synonym for historical fiction literature, it can also b ...
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 novelist, poet, playwright and historian. Many of his works remain classics of European and Scottish literature, notably the novels ''Ivanhoe'', ''Rob Roy (n ...
's fictional character Edward Waverley meets a figure from history,
Bonnie Prince Charlie Bonnie, is a Scottish given name and is sometimes used as a descriptive reference, as in the Scottish folk song, My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean. It comes from the Scots language word "bonnie" (pretty, attractive), or the French wikt:bonne#French, b ...
, 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, the first significant engagement of the Jacobite rising of 1745 The Jacobite rising of 1745, also know ...
. 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'', 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 t ...
about the
Vietnam War The Vietnam War (also known by #Names, other names) was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vi ...
. 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 ...
, including
Lewis Carroll Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (; 27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, poet and mathematician. His most notable works are ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' (1865) and its sequel ...
's 1865 novel ''
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ''Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' (commonly ''Alice in Wonderland'') is an 1865 English novel by Lewis Carroll. It details the story of a young girl named Alice (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a ...
'', J. R. R. Tolkien's ''
The Lord of the Rings ''The Lord of the Rings'' is an epic high-fantasy novel by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in Middle-earth, intended to be Earth at some time in the distant past, the story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 children's ...
'', and
J. K. Rowling Joanne Rowling ( "rolling"; born 31 July 1965), also known by her pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an author and printed ...
'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 ...
'' series. Creators of fantasy sometimes introduce imaginary creatures and beings such as dragons and fairies.


Process of fiction writing

Fiction writing is the process by which an author or creator produces a fictional work. Some elements of the writing process may be planned in advance, while others may come about spontaneously. Fiction writers use different writing styles and have distinct writers' voices when writing fictional stories.


Types by word count

Types of written fiction in prose are distinguished by relative length and include: * Short story: the boundary between a long short story and a novella is vague, although a short story commonly comprises fewer than 7,500 words * Novella: typically, 17,500 to 40,000 words in length; 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'', ''Strange Case of Dr Jekyll a ...
's ''
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde ''Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'' is a 1886 Gothic fiction, Gothic novella by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. It follows Gabriel John Utterson, a London-based legal practitioner who investigates a series of strange occurrences ...
'' (1886) or
Joseph Conrad Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, ; 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924) was a Poles in the United Kingdom#19th century, Polish-British novelist and short story writer. He is regarded as one of the greatest writers in t ...
's ''
Heart of Darkness ''Heart of Darkness'' (1899) is a novella by Poles in the United Kingdom#19th century, Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad in which the sailor Charles Marlow tells his listeners the story of his assignment as steamer captain for a Belgium, B ...
'' (1899) * Novel: 40,000 words or more in length


Realism

Realistic fiction typically involves a story whose basic setting (time and location in the world) is real and whose events could feasibly happen in a real-world setting; in contrast,
speculative fiction Speculative fiction is a term that has been used with a variety of (sometimes contradictory) meanings. The broadest interpretation is as a category of fiction encompassing genres with elements that do not exist in reality, recorded history, nat ...
typically involves a story where the opposite is the case, often being set in an entirely imaginary universe, an
alternative history Alternate history (also alternative history, althist, AH) is a genre of speculative fiction of stories in which one or more historical events occur and are resolved differently than in real life. As conjecture based upon historical fact, altern ...
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 argues that "fiction is both artifice and
verisimilitude In philosophy, verisimilitude (or truthlikeness) is the Notion (philosophy), notion that some propositions are closer to being Truth, true than other propositions. The problem of verisimilitude is the problem of articulating what it takes for o ...
", meaning that it requires both creative inventions as well as some acceptable degree of believability, a notion often encapsulated in poet
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Samuel Taylor Coleridge (; 21 October 177225 July 1834) was an English poetry, English poet, literary criticism, literary critic, philosopher, and theologian who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romanticism, Romantic ...
'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

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Cartoonist A cartoonist is a visual artist who specializes in both drawing and writing cartoons (individual images) or comics (sequential images). Cartoonists differ from comics writers or comic book illustrators in that they produce both the literary and g ...
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Fiction writing Fiction writing is the composition of non-factual prose texts. Fictional writing often is produced as a story meant to entertain or convey an author's point of view. The result of this may be a short story A short story is a piece of prose fi ...
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History of literature The history of literature is the historical development of writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language through a system of physically Epigraphy, inscribed, Printing press, mechanicall ...
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Pseudohistory Pseudohistory is a form of pseudoscholarship that attempts to distort or misrepresent the historical record, often by employing methods resembling those used in scholarly historical research. The related term cryptohistory is applied to pseudoh ...


Notes


Citations


References

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Further reading

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External links


"Kate Colquhoun on the blurred boundaries between fiction and non-fiction"
''La Clé des Langues'', 11 September 2012.
Example of a Serial Blog/Short Story Magazine
{{Authority control Genres