What are the elements of the psychological fiction genre?

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The genre of psychological fiction is literature that focuses on why characters do what they do. Think about how you might figure out why someone you know acts the way they do. If you could get inside his or her head, you would be able to. That's what authors of...

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The genre of psychological fiction is literature that focuses on why characters do what they do. Think about how you might figure out why someone you know acts the way they do. If you could get inside his or her head, you would be able to. That's what authors of this genre do—get the reader inside the characters' heads.

If you have read Lord of the Flies by William Golding or Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, you've read psychological fiction.

In his story about a group of boys stranded on a desert island after their plane is shot down, Golding explores the evil that exists inside of all humans and that cannot be eliminated. This evil motivates many of the actions of the boys in the story. When a few boys find the dead body of a parachuter from another plane hanging in a tree, their fears temporarily turn it into a symbol of evil.

Salinger explores the idea that events in childhood influence the adult a child becomes. Through a flashback, the reader learns that Allie, the brother of Holden Caulfield, the main character, died three years earlier. Holden was about thirteen at the time of the death and has been greatly affected by it. Holden’s actions in the novel are influenced by this traumatic childhood event.

Psychological fiction focuses on characters' motivations through the use of techniques that allow readers to get into characters' heads, such as internal monologues or stream of consciousness (characters talking or thinking to themselves) and flashbacks.

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