Guide to Literary Terms

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Fiction

Fiction - any imagined and invented literary composition fashioned to entertain and possibly instruct. While fiction makes its readers think, its primary purpose is to make its readers feel. The most common elements of fiction are: point of view, characters, conflict, plot, and setting. The term is usually applied to novels and short stories, but drama, epic, fable, fairy tale, folklore, verse, and parable also contain fictional elements.

The word is from the Latin fictionem which was derived from fingere, meaning “to shape” or “fashion.”

Since fiction is imaginary, any novel, such as those of Austen, Brontë, Cather, or Conrad, may be included in this genre, in addition to any other “made-up” work of literature.

see: allegory, ballad, comedy, drama, epic, fable, fairy tale, fantasy, folk tale, novel, parable, saga, science fiction, short story, story, tragedy