Guide to Literary Terms

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Differentiate between a novel and fiction, with examples.

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Fiction is a type of creative writing born of an author's imagination. (It is distinguished from nonfiction, which is writing that presents real people, recounts actual events, and deals in facts.) Forms of fiction writing include the novel, the short story, the play, and poetry. Think of it as an outline:

I. Fiction Writing

A. Novels

B. Short Stories

C. Plays (Drama)

D. Poems

A novel is a long work of fiction that develops characters, tells a story, resolves a conflict, and develops one or more themes. In many novels, more than one story is told, with the major story making up the plot and one or more minor stories making up subplots. A novel also develops one or more settings, the times and places the story occurs. Point of view is part of novel writing, also; the story must be told through someone's eyes.

As an example, To Kill a Mockingbird is an excellent American novel that remains popular year after year. The story is set in a small town in Alabama during the American Depression of the 1930s and is told by one of the main characters (first person point of view). Since it is a very rich and well developed narrative, the novel develops a plot and a subplot, resolves numerous conflicts, and suggests several themes.

Novels have been written and read for centuries in many countries, and they continue to be one of the most popular forms of literary entertainment and enlightenment.

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