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Fiction is any form of narrative which deals, in part or in whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by its author(s). (The opposite is non-fiction, which deals exclusively in factual events (e.g.: biographies, histories).

Although the word fiction is often used as an umbrella term for two major branches of literature - novels and short stories - it also applies to theatrical, cinematic, and musical work.

Types of Fiction Edit

Realistic Fiction Edit

Realistic fiction, although untrue, could actually happen. Some events, people, and places may even be real. Also, it can be possible that in the future these events could physically happen. For example, Jules Verne's From The Earth To The Moon novel, which at that time was just a product of a rich imagination, was proven possible in 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, and the team returned safely to Earth. Realist fiction appears to the reader to be something that is actually happening.

Non-realistic Fiction Edit

Non-realistic fiction is that in which the story's events could not happen in real life, because they are supernatural, or involve an alternate form of history of mankind other than that recorded, or need impossible technology. A good deal of such novels are present, like for example: Alice in Wonderland

Non-fiction Edit

Non-fiction is an account or representation of a subject which is presented as fact. This presentation may be accurate or not; that is, it can give either a true or a false account of the subject in question. However, it is generally assumed that the authors of such accounts believe them to be truthful at the time of their composition. Note that reporting the beliefs of others in a non-fiction format is not necessarily an endorsement of the ultimate veracity of those beliefs, it is simply saying that it is true that people believe that (for such topics as mythology, religion). Non-fiction can also be written about fiction, giving information about these other works.

Semi-fiction Edit

Semi-fiction is fiction implementing a great deal of non-fiction,[1] for example: a fictional depiction "based on a true story", or a fictionalized account, or a reconstructed biography.

Elements of fiction Edit

Even among writing instructors and bestselling authors, there appears to be little consensus regarding the number and composition of the fundamental elements of fiction. For example:

  • "Fiction has three main elements: plotting, character, and place or setting." (Morrell 2006, p. 151)
  • "A charged image evokes all the other elements of your story—theme, character, conflict, setting, style, and so on." (Writer's Digest Handbook of Novel Writing 1992, p. 160)
  • "For writers, the spices you add to make your plot your own include characters, setting, and dialogue." (Bell 2004, p. 16)
  • "Contained within the framework of a story are the major story elements: characters, action, and conflict." (Evanovich 2006, p. 83)
  • " . . . I think point of view is one of the most fundamental elements of the fiction-writing craft . . . ." (Selgin 2007, p. 41)

As stated by Janet Evanovich, "Effective writing requires an understanding of the fundamental elements of storytelling, such as point of view, dialogue, and setting." (Evanovich 2006, p. 39) The debate continues as to the number and composition of the fundamental elements of fiction.(Citation needed)

Plot Edit

Plot, or storyline, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. It is the rendering and ordering of the events and actions of a story. On a micro level, plot consists of action and reaction, also referred to as stimulus and response. On a macro level, plot has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Plot is often depicted as an arc with a zig-zag line to represent the rise and fall of action. Plot also has a mid-level structure: scene and sequel. A scene is a unit of drama—where the action occurs. Then, after a transition of some sort, comes the sequel—an emotional reaction and regrouping, an aftermath.

Exposition Edit

Exposition refers to a fiction story's initial setup, where, variably, setting is established, characters are introduced, and conflict is initiated. For example:

It was a dark and stormy night. The young widow glared at the shadowy man dripping on her kitchen floor. "I told you my husband's not home," she said.

He smiled a rictus smile and shut the door behind him. "Tell me something I don't know."

Foreshadowing Edit

Foreshadowing is a technique used by authors to provide clues for the reader to be able to predict what might occur later in the story. In other words, it is a technique in which an author drops subtle hints about plot developments to come later in the story.

Rising action Edit

The Rising action, in the narrative of a work of fiction, follows the exposition and leads up to the climax. The rising action's purpose is usually to build suspense all the way up the climactic finish. The rising action should not be confused with the middle of the story, but is the action right before the climax. The material beyond the climat is known as the falling action.

In a work of fiction, the climax often resembles that of the classical comedy, occurring near the end of the text or performance, after the rising action and before the falling action. It is the moment of greatest danger for the protagonist(s) and usually consists of a seemingly inevitable prospect of failure- it surprises you to the point that gets you excited to see what is to come in the end.

A climax often includes three elements. The most important element is that the protagonist experiences a change. The main character discovers something about himself or herself, and another unknown character. The last element is revealing the theme itself.

Falling action Edit

The Falling action is the part of a story, usually found in tragedies and short stories, following the climax and showing the effects of the climax. It leads up to the denouement (or catastrophe).[2] Where the story is settling down and you start to get the climax and where is might be resolved.

Resolution Edit

Resolution occurs after the climax, where the conflict is resolved. It may contain a moment of final suspense, during which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt.

Conflict Edit

Conflict is a necessary element of fictional literature. It is defined as the problem in any piece of literature and is often classified according to the nature of the protagonist or antagonist, as follows:

Types of conflict Edit

There are five basic types of conflict. In modern times, Person vs. Machine, also known as Person vs. Technology, has become another one.[3]

Person vs. Him or Herself Edit

Person vs. Him or Herself is the theme in literature that places a character against his or her own will, confusion, or fears. Person vs. Him or Herself can also be where a character tries to find out who he or she is or comes to a realization or a change in character. Although the struggle is internal, the character can be influenced by external forces. The struggle of the human being to come to a decision is the basis of Person vs. Him or Herself. Examples include the titular character of Beowulf. More recently, the Academy Award winning movie A Beautiful Mind has been posited as an application of Person vs. Him or Herself.

Person vs. Person Edit

Person vs. Person is a theme in literature in which the main character's conflict with another person is the focus of the story. An example is the hero's conflicts with the central villain of a work, which may play a large role in the plot and contribute to the development of both characters. There are usually several confrontations before the climax is reached. The conflict is external. An example is the conflict between Judah and Messala in Ben-Hur,as would be the conflict between a bully and his victim.

Person vs. Society Edit

Person vs. Society is a theme in fiction in which a main character's, or group of main characters', main source of conflict is social traditions or concepts. In this sense, the two parties are: a) the protagonist(s); b) the society of which the protagonist(s) are included. Society itself is often looked at as a single character, just as an opposing party would be looked at in a Person vs. Person conflict.This can also be one protagonist against a group or society of antagonists or society led by some antagonistic force. An example in literature would be Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

Person vs. Nature Edit

Person vs. Nature is the theme in literature that places a character against forces of nature. Many disaster films focus on this theme, which is predominant within many survival stories. It is also strong in stories about struggling for survival in remote locales, such as Gary Paulson's Hatchet or Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire".

Person vs. Supernatural Edit

Person vs. Supernatural is a theme in literature that places a character against supernatural forces. When an entity is in conflict with him-, her-, or itself, the conflict is categorized as internal, otherwise, it is external. Such stories are often seen in Freudian Criticism as representations of id vs. superego. Bram Stoker's Dracula is a good example of this, as well as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Christabel by Samuel Coleridge. It is also very common in comic books.

Person vs. Machine/Technology Edit

Person vs. Machine/Technology places a character against robot forces with "artificial intelligence". I, Robot and the Terminator series are good examples of this conflict.

Character Edit

Characterization is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. A character is a participant in the story, and is usually a person, but may be any personal identity, or entity whose existence originates from a fictional work or performance.

Characters may be of several types:

  • Point-of-view character: The character from whose perspective (theme) the audience experiences the story. This is the character that represents the point of view the audience will empathise, or at the very least, sympathise with. Therefore this is the "Main" Character.
  • Protagonist: The driver of the action of the story and therefore responsible for achieving the story's Objective Story Goal (the surface journey). In western storytelling tradition the Protagonist is usually the Main Character.
  • Antagonist: The character that stands in opposition to the protagonist.
  • Static character: A character who does not significantly change during the course of a story.
  • Dynamic character: A character who undergoes character development during the course of a story.
  • Foil: The character that contrasts to the protagonist in a way that illuminates their personality or characteristic.
  • Supporting character: A character that plays a part in the plot, but is not major
  • Minor character: A character in a bit/cameo part.

Methods of developing characters Edit

  • Appearance: explains or describes the character's outward appearance for the readers to be able to identify them
  • Dialogue: what they say and how they say it
  • Action: what the character does and how he/she does it
  • Reaction of others: how other characters see and treat him/her

Symbolism Edit

Symbolism is the applied use of symbols: iconic representations that carry particular conventional meanings.

The term "symbolism" is limited to use in contrast to "representationalism"; defining the general directions of a linear spectrum – where in all symbolic concepts can be viewed in relation, and where changes in context may imply systemic changes to individual and collective definitions of symbols. "Symbolism" may refer to a way of choosing representative symbols in line with abstract rather than literal properties, allowing for the broader interpretation of a carried meaning than more literal concept-representations allow. A religion can be described as a language of concepts related to human spirituality. Symbolism hence is an important aspect of most religions.

The interpretation of abstract symbols has had an important role in religion and psychoanalysis. As envisioned by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, symbols are not the creations of mind, but rather are distinct capacities within the mind to hold a distinct piece of information. In the mind, the symbol can find free association with any number of other symbols, can be organized in any number of ways, and can hold the connected meanings between symbols as symbols in themselves. Jung and Freud diverged on the issue of common cognitive symbol systems and whether they could exist only within the individual mind or among other minds; whether any cognitive symbolism was defined by innate symbolism or by the influence of the environment around them.

Metaphor Edit

Metaphor (from the Greek language: Meaning "transfer") is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects. It is a figure of speech that compares two or more things not using like or as. In the simplest case, this takes the form: "The [first subject] is a [second subject]." More generally, a metaphor is a rhetorical trope that describes a first subject as being or equal to a second object in some way. Thus, the first subject can be economically described because implicit and explicit attributes from the second subject are used to enhance the description of the first. This device is known for usage in literature, especially in poetry, where with few words, emotions and associations from one context are associated with objects and entities in a different context. A simpler definition is the comparison of two unrelated things without using the words "like" or "as".

The term derives from Greek μεταφορά (metaphora), or "transference",[4] from μεταφέρω (metaphero) "to carry over, to transfer"[5] and that from μετά (meta), "between"[6] + φέρω (phero), "to bear, to carry".[7]

Types of plots Edit

Chronological order Edit

All of the events occur in the order in which they happened in writing. There may be references to events from the past or future, however the events are written in time order. There will not be flashbacks/flash forwards.

Flashback Edit

In history, film, television and other media, a flashback (also called analepsis) is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened prior to the story's primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory. Character origin flashbacks specifically refers to flashbacks dealing with key events early in a character's development (Clark Kent discovering he could fly, for example, or the Elric brothers' attempt to bring back their mother). The television show Lost is particularly well known for extensive use of flashbacks in almost every episode. In the opposite direction, a flashforward (or prolepsis) reveals events that will occur in the future. The technique is used to create suspense in a story, or develop a character. In literature, internal analepsis is a flashback to an earlier point in the narrative; external analepsis is a flashback to before the narrative started.

Setting Edit

Setting, the location and time of a story, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. Sometimes setting is referred to as milieu, to include a context (such as society) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story. Another example is when Harry Potter has flashbacks of his past memories, during sleep, or when having fits. In some cases, setting becomes a character itself and can set the tone of a story. (Rozelle 2005, p. 2)

Theme Edit

Theme, a conceptual distillation of the story, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. It is the central idea or insight serving as a unifying element, creating cohesion and is an answer to the question, 'What did you learn from the piece of fiction?' In some cases a story's theme is a prominent element and somewhat unmistakable. (Morrell 2006, p. 263)

Style Edit

Style is not so much what is written, but how it is written and interpreted. Style in fiction refers to language conventions used to construct the story or article. A fiction writer may manipulate diction, sentence structure, phrasing, dialogue, and other aspects of language to create style or mood. The communicative effect created by the author's style is sometimes referred to as the story's voice. Every writer has his or her own unique style, or voice (Provost 1988, p. 8). Style is sometimes listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction.

Writer Philip Roth defined the "sensuous aspects of fiction" as "tone, mood, voice, and, among other things, the juxtaposition of the narrative events themselves".[8]

Categories Edit

Main article: Literary genre

Types of prose fiction:

  • Flash fiction: A work of fewer than 2,000 words. (1,000 by some definitions) (around 5 pages)
  • Short story: A work of at least 2,000 words but under 7,500 words. (5–25 pages)
  • Novelette: A work of at least 7,500 words but under 17,500 words. (25–60 pages)
  • Novella: A work of at least 17,500 words but under 50,000 words. (60–170 pages)
  • Novel: A work of 50,000 words or more. (about 170+ pages)
  • Epic: A work of 200,000 words or more. (about 680+ pages)[9][10]

Forms of fiction Edit

Traditionally, fiction includes novels, short stories, fables, fairy tales, plays, poetry, but it now also encompasses films, comic books, and video games.

The Internet has had a major impact on the distribution of fiction, calling into question the feasibility of copyright as a means to ensure royalties are paid to copyright holders. Also, digital libraries such as Project Gutenberg make 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 games or computer-generated comics. Countless forums for fan fiction 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 either as flash fiction or serialblog, and collaborative fiction, where a story is written sequentially by different authors, or the entire text can be revised by anyone using a wiki.

Uses of fiction Edit

Although fiction may be viewed as a form of entertainment, it has other uses. Fiction has been used for instructional purposes, such as fictional examples used in school textbooks. It may be used in propaganda and advertising. Although they are not necessarily targeted at children, fables offer an explicit moral goal.

A whole branch of literature crossing entertainment and science speculation is Science fiction. A less common similar cross is the philosophical fiction hybridizing fiction and philosophy, thereby often crossing the border towards propaganda fiction. These kinds of fictions constitute thought experiments exploring consequences of certain technologies or philosophies.

Semi-fiction Edit

Semi-fiction spans stories that include a substantial amount of non-fiction. It may be the retelling of a true story with only the names changed. Often, however, even when the story is claimed to be true, there may be significant additions and subtractions from the true story in order to make it more suitable for storytelling.

The other way around, semi-fiction may also involve fictional events with a semi-fictional character. Semi-fiction, at last, relies on author's imagination or interests to fill the gaps between reality and the final story.

See also Edit

Main list: Outline of fiction


Notes Edit

  1. Whiteman, G.; Phillips, N. (13 December 2006). "The Role of Narrative Fiction and Semi-Fiction in Organizational Studies". ERIM Report Series Research in Management. ISSN 1566-5283. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  2. Greenville College (2006). Plot A: The Pattern of the Action
  3. Bokesch, Laura. "Literary elements". Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  4. Metaphora, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  5. Metaphero, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  6. Meta, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  7. Phero, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  8. Philip Roth letter to critic Diana Trilling, dated July 27, 1969. It was first published in Roth, Philip (1975). Reading Myself and Others. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-24753-6. . The letter was later republished in literary magazine Five Dials, in Number 9: The Fiction Issue, as An Interruption: Writer vs Critic #4, pp.34–6
  9. counting a page roughly as 300 words.
  10. a professional writer usually writes an average of 500–1000 words per day. Stephen King stated he writes an average of 2000 words per day, every day.
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