Guide to Literary Terms

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What is fiction?

Fiction is a broad category of literary works that depicts any imagined and invented story for the purpose of entertainment, instruction, or both.

Fiction

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Fiction is a category of literary prose works that feature invented stories and characters, rather than real events or people. While some such works might be set in a real location, feature real events, or include real people as characters, any deviation from fact places that work within the category of fiction. 

In a broader sense, the term fiction can be applied to any account of unreal events. In a literary context, the term applies specifically to prose narratives with fabricated elements.

Fiction evolved from the Latin word fingere, meaning “to form, to shape, to feign.” 

Any novel is a work of fiction. Consider, for example, the works of George Eliot, Amy Tan, Ralph Ellison, and Willa Cather.

see: allegory, comedy, drama, epic, fable, fantasy, folktale, folklore, novel, parable, saga, science fiction, short story, story, tragedy

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Figure of Speech