Fiction: Everything You Need to Know

The term fiction is derived from fictiō, which is a Latin word and refers to the act of molding, making, or fashioning. Fiction refers to untrue stories – a fictional piece isn’t based on any life occurrences. Although fiction doesn’t present facts and is created from the imagination, it may be inspired by an actual situation or a true story.

Unlike different genres of non-fiction, such as autobiography, biography, commentary, philosophy, history, data analysis, and others, fiction is a class apart that’s defined by its focus on narratives created by the author. Most literary critics and academics subdivide fiction further into two categories, namely literary fiction and genre fiction.

The key difference between the two seems to be the goal. Literary fiction aims to provide insight that facilitates a stronger understanding of the world and its people. Thus, literary fiction often depends heavily on symbolism, tends to follow non-conventional plot structures, and contains embedded allegory and symbolism. In contrast, genre fiction typically has science-fiction, dystopian, or fantastical elements. It delivers an entertaining story with a fast-paced plot even when it deals with complex themes. Thus, with genre fiction, readers get an opportunity to escape from reality.

Some renowned literary fiction novels are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Examples of genre fiction include George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, to name a few.

Apart from having different goals, the style of writing and plot scale also differ between literary and genre fiction. Literary fiction is character-driven and has more carefully crafted sentences, while genre fiction uses an accessible writing style to take the readers on an exciting, fast-paced ride.

On the surface, it might appear that literary fiction has more meaningful content. However, the line between literary and genre fiction is usually more blurred than their standard definitions. For example, ‘A Game of Thrones’ has an extensive plot but is also rich with its intricate and vivid characters.

One will also find works by literary authors that belong to the fantasy or dystopian genre. An example could be ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood.

It’s neither possible nor fair to label one better than the other as both literary fiction and genre fiction have their own value. Thus, readers should enjoy both or either depending on what their reading preferences are.

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