Teaching Students About Fiction

What is fiction writing?

Fiction is any literature created from the imagination and typically has a narrative. It describes imaginary events and people. Usually, this comes in the form of books and stories. Narrative writing is one of the three types of writing, and it’s important to remember that not all narratives are fiction.

The word ‘fiction’ comes from the Latin word ‘fictus,’ which means ‘to form’ – fiction is stories that are ‘formed’ and created by a writer.

There are many types of genres within fiction, including mysteries, science fiction, romance, fantasy, and crime thrillers.

Fiction is the opposite of non-fiction. It can be based on facts or actual events, but the writer curates most of the content using their imagination.

Fiction is typically read for pleasure but can also be analyzed to discover themes and meanings.

What are the different forms of fiction writing?

Fiction can take many forms, such as:

  • Novels: Novels are books that have one long story written in them. They’re works of prose fiction. They’re longer than short stories and novellas.
  • Novellas: A novella is a standalone piece of fiction shorter than a full-length novel but longer than a short story or novel.
  • Short stories: Short stories are much shorter than novels and usually deal with only a few characters.
  • Flash fiction: Flash fiction is a type of fiction writing defined by how short it is. Flash fiction is usually kept beneath a strict word count to tell a story in the least words possible. Some flash fiction tells a story in just a few words.
  • Play scripts: A play or drama script is a story written for actors to perform, with the term ‘play’ relating to a theatrical performance.
  • Poems: Poems use chosen language, rhythm, rhyme, imagery, and more to create an image or tell a narrative. Poems can be short or as long as an entire novel.

As you can see, fiction is everywhere! And it doesn’t just have to be a book, either. Your favorite film is a work of fiction. Narrative poems are a work of fiction. So fiction is a vital part of our society and culture. It can also be divided into two types of fiction – commercial fiction and literary fiction. But what are commercial and literary fiction?

Commercial fiction includes fiction novels and writing that can be read and enjoyed by a broad audience. Examples of fiction genres include mystery, romance, legal thrillers, and science fiction books. These are examples of commercial fiction found on the bookshelves of our high street bookshops and libraries.

Literary fiction is aimed at a much smaller and often more academic or intellectually adventurous audience. Nevertheless, the noticeable qualities it contains set literary fiction apart, such as excellent but complex writing, originality of thought, and style.

What is the difference between fiction and non-fiction?

Fiction and non-fiction are both types of narrative writing that will be taught to your students in primary education. However, they are vastly different. Fiction texts are created from the imagination and include made-up stories with characters, a setting, and a plot from the author’s imagination. Some examples of fiction texts would consist of picture books, novels, and classic fairytales, to name a few.

Meanwhile, the definition of non-fiction is the term for any writing created to relay the truth or information of actual events to the audience. This means that it is the opposite of fiction. ‘Non-fiction’ texts are based on facts and are informative. These include history books, autobiographies, and many more.

See these examples of fiction and non-fiction writing to see where you can find the differences between these two forms of writing.

Examples of Fiction: Fairy tales, poetry, plays, novels

Examples of Non-fiction: Autobiographies, textbooks, newspapers

Popular types of fiction: Find the genre of fiction for your students

You will find many mainstream genre fictions in your reading corner, and school libraries will fall into common and popular types of fiction according to the genre. Genre is the style or category of a book. As a writer, genre controls what you write and how you write it. It describes the style and focus of the novel you write. Genres give you blueprints for different types of stories. These different genres will appeal to the various readers in your classroom. Read more about these different genres to find the best types of fiction books to get your children excited about reading and writing.

  •  Adventure stories include something exciting and extraordinary, often a quest or a mission. A good adventure story can draw your children into a world or time they would have never been able to explore. In addition, because adventure stories are so immersive, children will have no idea they are learning as they go!
  • Crime/detective fiction: Detective and crime fiction follow the classic ‘whodunnit’ formula, where readers can help solve a crime or mystery with vibrant characters. Detective stories are a popular genre in which a crime is introduced and investigated, and the culprit is revealed.
  • Thriller fiction: Thriller fiction is great for your adventurous and imaginative readers. Thrillers often include dark storylines, high stakes, and suspenseful plot-driven stories.
  • Fantasy fiction: Fantasy is a type of fiction that typically, taking inspiration from myth and legend, is set in a fictional universe and features supernatural characters and mythical creatures. Fantasy fiction stories are a wonderful escape from the norm and reality. This is what makes them so popular with children and adults alike
  • Science fiction: Science fiction, often shortened to ‘sci-fi,’ is a genre of fiction that’s usually set in space or the future. It can include spaceships, astronauts, machines, robots, and aliens. Science fiction stories are often about exploring new worlds, inventing new imaginary scientific technology, or having an adventure in space. Science fiction stories are great for your interested and thrill-seeking students.
  • Young adult fiction: Young adult fiction is now booming in popularity, thanks to memorable young protagonists like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. The main characteristic of young adult fiction (often shortened to YA fiction) is that its main characters are the same age as the story’s intended audience, usually between 12 and 16 years old. The story will explore their coming-of-age journey through their relationships with other characters or through the lens of a critical mission to save people from danger.
  • Romance fiction: Romance is one of the best-selling genres of fiction in the adult market. It focuses on a relationship between two characters, usually with lots of twists and turns happening to prevent them from getting together before they get their happy ending! While romance isn’t a genre aimed at children, many children’s stories contain an element of romance – think of all the princes and princesses in fairy tales. Romance is also a popular element of young adult fiction, with characters exploring their feelings for others as they come of age.
  • Historical fiction: Historical fiction refers to any fictional story set in the past. Sometimes the stories contain accurate historical figures, such as kings, queens, or even celebrities from previous ages. Still, the central character will almost always be a product of the author’s imagination. The plot might also contain fictionalized versions of events that happened, or it might be entirely made up. Historical fiction books are usually meticulously researched to ensure all the period details are correct.

Not all fiction stories can easily be categorized. Many stories contain elements of two types of fiction or even more. Think of the Harry Potter series, for example. It’s a young adult series and an adventure story with a central quest. In addition, it contains elements of fantasy, with plenty of magic and mythical creatures, and there’s also quite a lot of romance.

Examples of Fiction: What are the three types of fiction?

Novels and fiction books fall into three broad categories: literary fiction, genre fiction, and mainstream fiction. But what does this mean?

  • Literary fiction: Literary fiction tends to follow non-conventional plot structures. This type of fiction usually uses heavy symbolism and deeper meanings. Examples of literary fiction are often viewed as more ‘advanced’ or more ‘serious’ than here and mainstream fiction. Instead of focusing on the plot of a story, the character and their development are prominent in literary fiction. Reading literary fiction focuses on the experiences, growth, and beliefs of the main character we follow through the story. A story arc and traditional plot may or may not even be present, which means that a satisfying ending is no guarantee. Types of literary fiction also include contemporary literary fiction, realistic literary fiction, experimental literary fiction, and philosophical, literary fiction.
  • Genre fiction: Genre fiction is one of the more popular types of fiction that your students will encounter. Genre fiction traditionally includes genres such as romance, mystery, thriller, horror, fantasy, and children’s books. (You can read more about the different genres you can try above.) These types of fiction are often our best sellers that you can find on the shelves of high street shops. Unlike literary fiction, the plot and storylines are the main focus of these books, and they are mainly written for entertainment.
  • Mainstream fiction: When a fiction novel or a genre novel becomes massively popular beyond its intended and core audience, attracting new readers and bestseller status, it is considered an example of mainstream fiction. Every type of fiction has the potential to become mainstream fiction.

What are the three characteristics of fiction?

The main characteristics of fiction can vary depending on your opinion of which characteristics are most important to the story. However, it is widely agreed that the three essential features of fiction include the familiar elements different people will list: character, plot, and point of view.

Character: A character is a person in a story, either a human, a fantasy character, a mythical character, or even an animal. It can be anything from a human to an inanimate object. So whether it’s Little Red Riding Hood or the Big Bad Wolf you’re describing, these characters play an essential part in their story.

Point of view: Point of view is the voice in which a story is told. It is the narrative voice through which readers follow the story’s plot, meet its characters, discover its setting, and enter into its relationships, emotions, and conflicts.

Plot: The plot is the main event(s) of a play, novel, film, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as a complementary sequence.

What is the difference between fiction and literature?

Fiction is a type of literature, but not all literature is fiction.

Literature is an umbrella term encompassing many genres, forms, and writing styles. For example, fiction and non-fiction are types of literature, so not all literature is fictional. In addition, poetry and plays are also types of literature.

Some also define literature as more ‘classic’ in nature. General fiction is written to be read for pleasure, not for deeper analysis or comprehension. It has clear themes, interesting characters, and an exciting plot.

On the other hand, literature is writing with themes and symbolism that can only be discovered after careful analysis and comprehension.

When you compare the two, fiction focuses on creating an enjoyable experience for the reader. It’s a story to be read and loved. Literature focuses on a central theme or message – it wants the reader to think critically and analyze what they’re reading.

In English lessons, children will read stories considered ‘literature’ so that there are more opportunities for them to practice reading comprehension and making inferences.

However, children need to read both! This will improve their reading comprehension skills and help them to develop a love for reading.

What does fiction do?

The main aim of fiction is to entertain and inspire all who read it. Fiction takes us into imaginary worlds and introduces us to characters we can see grow, change and develop. It gives us an insight into lives we would never have had the chance to witness otherwise.

Many fictional stories also have a moral message or explore specific topics and themes. For example, many stories examine the issue of racism and how it’s impacted people’s lives and our society. These stories aim to educate the reader and hopefully teach them something new.

Some fiction explores emotions such as grief, anger, or love. These stories allow the writer and the reader to express complicated feelings.

Facts about Fiction

Here are some quick-fire facts about fiction!

  • The hero of the story is called the protagonist.
  • The villain of the story is called the antagonist.
  • The fight between the protagonist and the antagonist is called the conflict.
  • There are five basic types of conflict: person vs. self, person vs. person, person vs. society, person vs. nature, and person vs. supernatural.
  • A new type of conflict has been introduced in modern times: person vs. technology.
  • The plot must have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • The climax is the most exciting part of the plot. Like a rollercoaster, the plot builds up until you’re at the top – the climax.
  • Fiction is about what the protagonist wants – and who or what stops them from getting it.
  • Change and development are crucial to fiction. Characters should learn and grow throughout the plot. They might gain a new perspective on things.
  • One of the most common techniques for writing fiction is ‘show, don’t tell.’ This means you show the reader what’s happening rather than just telling them exactly what happens. This leaves lots of room for inferences.
  • The world’s oldest known fictional story is the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh.’ It’s an adventure story written in the style of a poem.
  • Modern examples of fiction include films, video games, anime, manga, comic books, TV shows, and cartoons.
Choose your Reaction!