In literature, fiction encompasses written works that are defined by narratives or stories that are created, invented, and made up by the writer. Essentially, fictional works feature elements such asplot, characters,setting, andtheme. These elements can be literal, conventional, and follow formulas, such as in works ofgenrefiction. They can also be artistic, symbolic, and unstructured, such as in works of literary fiction. Fictional works primarily take the form of novels,novellas, and short stories.
When a literary work is labeled fiction, this indicates to the reader that the written content is original and unique to the authors imagination. This allows for expansive creative opportunities on the part of writers and encourages suspension of disbelief among readers in order to accept the world as it is invented and presented by the author.
For example, inMary ShelleysFrankenstein, the maincharacteruses his scientific study of chemical processes and decay of living tissue to gain insight into the creation of life, thereby giving life to a creature of his own making. As the reader accepts this version of fictional truth, they are immersed in thenovels world and impacted by the themes of natural laws and human interference, isolation, revenge, and societal responsibility.Examples of Well-Known Literary Fiction Novels
The novel is an influential and impactful form of fiction writing. Novels allow writers to create entire worlds that serve as touchstones and lenses for readers to learn, connect, and understand history, culture, and what it means to exist as humans. The novel can be an important social, political, and cultural tool to bring about awareness, inspire change, and givevoiceto people and groups who may otherwise be silenced.
Here are some examples of well-known literary fiction novels:The Great Gatsby(F. Scott Fitzgerald)Giovannis Room (James Baldwin)O Pioneers! (Willa Cather)Invisible ManRalph Ellison)The Handmaids Tale (Margaret Atwood)War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)brave new worldAldous Huxley)One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut, Jr.)moby dickHerman Melville)Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston)Adam Bede (George Eliot)To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee)UlyssesJames Joyce)To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)the strangerAlbert Camus)Beloved(Toni Morrison)Crime and Punishment(Fyodor Dostoyevsky)Things Fall ApartChinua Achebe)Common Examples of Genres in Fiction
There are many types of genre fiction. As such, these works tend to meet certain expectations of the reader in terms of setting, characters, plot, and theme. Though some may consider genre fiction to be formulaic following predictable patterns, conventions, and outcomes, there is often diversity within and even overlap between genres.
Here are some common examples of genres in fiction:MysteryHorrorScience FictiondystopianRomancespythrillerhistoricalFantasyyoung adultwesternWhat Is Literary Fiction?
There is no strict definition for the term literary fiction. However, literary works share certain aspects and are differentiated at a certain level from works of genre fiction, primarily in terms of what is considered literary tradition. Here are some characteristics that are featured in most works of literary fiction:use of artistic language, including advanced and/or elevated wording andimageryuse ofliterary devicesincludingsymbolismmetaphorallegory, etc.Ambiguityin plot andsubplots, with no set plot formula orconclusionNarrativethat is character-focused and drivenexploration of historical and cultural events and patternsexploration of philosophical themes, including the human condition and thepowerof nature
In some academic arenas, literary fiction is considered to be superior to genre fiction. Many works of literary fiction are considered to be classics and worthy of academic study, therefore making up much of the curricula in higher-level education and literature courses. However, this does not necessarily diminish the intellectual or lasting value of genre fiction. In fact, many works of literature can be identified and described as both literary and genre fiction.What Is Genre Fiction?
Genrefiction is associated more with popularity and commercialism than the tradition of literary fiction. However, the expanse of readership or commercial success of a work of genre fiction doesnt necessarily indicate that it has less literary value. Like literary fiction, genre fiction works tend to share certain characteristics, such as:adherence to established formulas for plot and character arcsuse of more literal than artistic languagespare usage of literary devices, including metaphors and allegoriesuse of symbolism that is transparent, accessible, and overt
Though critics and academics often classify genre fiction as inferior to literary fiction, genre fiction is typically far more popular among a larger scope of readers. In fact, works of genre fiction are much more likely to become bestsellers than works of literary fiction. In addition, though most of the enduring fictional works are literary, some genre fiction works endure across time as well.Common Examples of Genres in Fiction
There are now seven major genres of fiction as given below.Fantasy:It involves imaginative fiction having a fictional universe, mythological character, and magical environment.Historical Fiction:This type of fiction involves historical characters, situations, and events.Contemporary Fiction:This genre involves modern and postmodern fiction with modern and postmodern characters, events, situations, and themes.Mystery:This genre involves crime, mysterious circumstances, or puzzling situations.Science Fiction:It involves science stories, experiments, space travels, etc.Romance:This genre involves romantic situations, events, characters, and relationships.Graphic Novels:This modern genre involves stories involving graphic images and pictures with them.Difference Between Literary Fiction and Genre Fiction
Literature has a variety of genres even when it comes to fiction. For example, literary fiction means narratives having reflective or representatives themes, characters, situations, and themes. However, genre fiction means just dividing the same work into further subcategories through different nomenclature. For example,romanceis literary fiction but it is the genre with which it is known.Examples of Fiction in Literature
People enjoy reading fictional literary works for many reasons, including entertainment, education, escape, and even connection with others. Reading fictional literature develops imagination, empathy, understanding, and progress.
Here are some examples of fiction in literature:Example 1:Don Quixoteby Miguel de Cervantes
It is one thing to write as poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth.
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, is considered the first modern novel. Though the novel chronicles the title characters manicquestas an aging nobleman to become a Spanish knight, thestoryis also a reflection of the influence of knightly tales and otherfantasyworks on readers. In fact, Cervantess novel is both an embrace and criticism of literary romance as well as an examination of the role and responsibility of the artist in society.
Cervantess novel is considered a significant work of Spanish literature and a touchstone of classic literary fiction, influencing writers across time and region. As this passage indicates,Don Quixoteexplores the meaning and purpose of fiction and nonfiction writing as it relates to both the expectations of the reader and the implied obligation of the writer. In addition, Cervantess innovativenarrativeform in creating the first modern novel opened the gate for writers everywhere to approach fiction and imaginative expression in original, expansive, and groundbreaking ways.Example 2:A Very Old Man with Enormous Wingsby Gabriel Garca Mrquez
The news of the captive angel spread with such rapidity that after a few hours the courtyard had the bustle of a marketplace and they had to call in troops with fixed bayonets to disperse the mob that was about to knock the house down. Elisenda, her spine all twisted from sweeping up so much marketplace trash, then got the idea of fencing in the yard and charging five cents admission to see the angel.
InGabriel Garca Mrquezsshort story, he embraces the genre of magicalrealismin which fantastic characters or mythical elements are included in a matter-of-fact manner in otherwise realistic fiction. In this story, an old man with enormous wings appears at the residence of Elisenda and Pelayo. The characters in the story accept the presence of the winged man, terming him an angel, though they are perplexed as to where he came from and why he is suddenly there. Rather than attempt to understand or help the angel, the characters use his presence for their own personal gainparticularly Elisenda who devises a way to profit from the people flocking to see the old man with wings.
This story features many of the standard characteristics and formulas of the magical realism genre, and it can therefore be categorized as genre fiction. However, this label does not diminish the storys literary value. In fact, due to the narratives artistic language, use of literary devices, and philosophical themes regarding faith and humanity, most experts and readers would classify A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings as literary fiction just as readily as genre fiction.Example 3:Ragtimeby E.L. Doctorow
He was buried alive in a grave and could not escape, and had to be rescued. Hurriedly, they dug him out. The earth is too heavy, he said gasping. His nails bled. Soil fell from his eyes. He was drained of color and couldnt stand. His assistant threw up. Houdini wheezed and sputtered. He coughed blood. They cleaned him off and took him back to the hotel. Today, nearly fifty years since his death, theaudiencefor escapes is even larger.
Some writers choose to incorporate real events, places, and even people in their fictional works. In his novelRagtime, Doctorow incorporates historical figures, such as Harry Houdini, in the plot. Rather than being simply mentioned or referred to by thenarratorand other characters, the historical figures in this novelplayan integral part in the story and interact with other characters that are purely an invention of the author.
This passage reflects the way Houdini, an actual historical figure, is a full-fledged character in the novel, withdialogueand actions attributed to him by the author. Though the words, actions, and thoughts of the historical figures in the novel are fictionalized and created by Doctorow, the balance between real events and people as they intersect with fictional characters results in an interesting portrayal for the reader of what is known and unknown about history. Doctorow effectively utilizes literary fiction to challenge the readers perceptions of the past, which invites the same challenge of how we perceive the present.Synonyms of Fiction
Fiction, like all other literary devices, has no equivalent that can be replaced as itssynonym. However, some words come close to it in meanings such as stories, short stories, novels, novelette, creative stories, narratives, narration,proseliterature, romance,fable, or even works of imagination.
Some other similar words that could replace it in somecontextsare invention, fabrications, lies, concoctions, fake news, fake stories, fibs, fantasies, fantasy, fancy,illusion, and falsehood.
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Categories: General fiction