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An illustration from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, depicting the fictional protagonist, Alice, playing a fantastical game of croquet.

Fiction (Latin: fictum, "created") is a branch of literature which deals, in part or in whole, with temporally contrafactual events (events that are not true at the time of writing). In contrast to this is non-fiction, which deals exclusively in factual events (e.g.: biographies, histories). Semi-fiction is fiction implementing a great deal of non-fiction,[1] e.g. a fictional description based on a true story.


History of fiction

The history of fiction coincides with much of the history of literature, with each genre of fiction having its own origins and development.

Elements of fiction


A character is any person, persona, identity, or entity that exists in a work of art. Characters may be entirely fictional or based upon real, historical entities (see Historical fiction). Characters may be human, supernatural, mythical, divine, animal, or personifications of an abstraction. Characterisation is the process of creating an image of a person in fiction, complete with that person's traits, features, and motivation.[2]


Plot is a sequence of interrelated events arranged to form a causal pattern and achieve an intended effect. It is often designed with a narrative structure or storyline, that includes conflict, rising action, and climax, followed by a falling action and a resolution or dénouement.[3]


Setting, the location and time of a story, is sometimes referred to as story world or to include a context (such as society) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story...[4] In some cases, setting becomes a character itself and can set the tone of a story.[5]


The theme of a story is the point the writer wishes to make, a moral or conceptual distillation of the story often posed as a question or human problem.[6]


Style is not so much what is written, but how it is written. In fiction, style refers to language conventions and literary techniques used to construct a story. The communicative effect created by an author's style is sometimes referred to as the story's voice. Each writer has his or her own unique style, or voice.[7]


Fiction may be classified by various means.

Age group

Fiction may by classified by the age of the intended audience:


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


Fiction may be classified by length:

  • 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 (more than 170 pages), also see Length of a novel


Uses of fiction

Although fiction may be viewed as a form of entertainment, it has other uses:

Recent issues and trends

  • The Internet has had a major impact on the distribution of fiction, calling into question the feasibility of copyright as a means of ensuring that royalties are paid to copyright holders.
  • Digital libraries such as Project Gutenberg make public domain texts more readily available.
  • The combination of inexpensive home computers and the Internet has 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 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.

See also


  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 Ocotober 2009.  
  2. ^ Polking, 1990, p. 68–9.
  3. ^ Polking, 1990, p. 328–9.
  4. ^ Polking, 1990, p. 420.
  5. ^ Rozelle, 2005, p. 2.
  6. ^ Polking, 1990, p. 482.
  7. ^ Provost, 1988, p. 8


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