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Fiction (from the Latin fingere, "to form, create") is storytelling of imagined events and stands in contrast to non-fiction, which makes factual claims about reality.

Fictional works – novels, short stories, fables, fairy tales, films, comics, interactive fiction, animation, video games – may include or reference factual occurrences. The term is also often used synonymously with literature and more specifically fictional prose. In this sense, fiction refers only to novels or short stories and is often divided into two categories, popular fiction (e.g., science fiction or mystery fiction) and literary fiction (e.g., Marcel Proust or William Faulkner).


Fiction is largely perceived as a form of art and/or entertainment, although not all fiction is necessarily artistic. Fiction may be created for the purpose of educating, such as fictional examples used in school textbooks. Fiction is also frequently instrumentalized by propaganda and advertising. Fiction may be propagated by parents to their children out of tradition (e.g. Santa Claus) or in order to instill certain beliefs and values. Fables with an explicit moral goal are not necessarily targeted at children, however. Fiction may over time blend with factual accounts and develop into mythology.[verification needed] Many atheists perceive religion as no different from any fictional tale, whereas members of religious groups typically explain their beliefs with faith and/or historical figures/events; and claim they are fundamentally different from fictional tales (although they may call other religious views fictional).[verification needed] The sociological school of constructivism argues that every view of reality is fundamentally a construction of the self and that a safe distinction between fact and fiction is impossible, whereas the philosophy of naturalism holds that reality can be approximated and truth can be demonstrated through usefulness, allowing the distinction from fiction.

Fiction has often been the target of censorship or boycotts, escalating into book burnings or bans. Extremist regimes like the Taliban have been even more prohibitive, restricting all reading to religious texts. There is an ongoing debate regarding sexual content in fiction and whether or not juveniles can be safely exposed to it; opponents of fiction with sexual content typically label it pornography. On the other hand fiction is also used to express religion (see Bahá'í Faith in fiction and LDS fiction.) The Internet has had a massive impact on the distribution of fiction, calling into question the feasibility of copyright as a means to ensure royalties are payed to copyright holders. Also digital libraries such as Project Gutenberg have come into being which 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. Through open writing systems like wikis, collaboratively written fiction is also becoming possible (see the Wikifiction initiative).

Fiction is a fundamental part of human culture, and the ability to create fiction and other artistic works is frequently cited as one of the defining characteristics of humanity.


A novel (from French nouvelle Italian "novella", "new") is an extended fictional narrative in prose. Until the eighteenth century, the word referred specifically to short fictions of love and intrigue as opposed to romances, which were epic-length works about love and adventure. During the 18th century the novel adopted features of the old romance and became one of the major literary genres. It is today defined mostly by its ability to become the object of literary criticism demanding artistic merit, a specific 'literary' style and a deeper meaning than a true story of the same content could claim to have.

Short story[]

A short story is a form of short fictional narrative prose. Short stories tend to be more concise and to the point than longer works of fiction, such as novellas (in the modern sense of this term) and novels. Because of their brevity, successful short stories rely on literary devices such as character, plot, theme, language, and insight to a greater extent than long form fiction.

Short stories have their origins in the prose anecdote, a swiftly-sketched situation that comes rapidly to its point, with parallels in oral story-telling traditions. With the rise of the comparatively realistic novel, the short story evolved as a miniature, with some of its first perfectly independent examples in the tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann and Edgar Allan Poe.

Elements of fiction[]

Main article: narratology The fiction writer might use the following to create artistic effects in his or her story:

Narratology is the theory and study of narrative and narrative structure and the way they affect our perception. The term was coined in French, narratologie, by Tzvetan Todorov in his 1969 Grammaire du Décaméron (Prince). Its objects of study are all kinds of narrated texts - both fiction (literature, poetry, etc.) and non-fiction (historiography, academic publishing, etc.), - as well as the dramatic structures, plot devices, characterization, settings, genres, and literary techniques. Usually, the term "narratology" is used in connection with fictional texts, which doesn't imply that non-fictional texts or other forms of fiction (theater, films, electronic entertainment, etc.) are not included in the studies' field.

  • antagonist: the character that stands in opposition to the protagonist
  • character: a participant in the story, usually a person
  • conflict: a character or problem with which the protagonist must contend
  • climax: the story's highest point of tension or drama
  • dialogue: the speech of characters as opposed to that of the narrator
  • plot: a related series of events revealed in narrative
  • point of view: the perspective of the narrator; usually refers to the voice, first or third person.
  • protagonist: the central character of a story
  • resolution: the plot component in which the result of the conflict is revealed
  • scene: a piece of the story showing the action of one event
  • setting: the locale and time of a story that creates mood and atmosphere
  • structure: the organization of story elements
  • subplot: a plot that is part of or subordinate to another plot
  • suspension of disbelief: the reader's temporary acceptance of story elements as believable, usually *necessary for enjoyment
  • theme: a conceptual distillation of the story; what the story is about
  • tone: the tone of "voice" that the author uses.