AskDefine | Define fictional

Dictionary Definition

fictional adj
1 related to or involving literary fiction; "clever fictional devices"; "a fictional treatment of the train robbery" [ant: nonfictional]
2 formed or conceived by the imagination; "a fabricated excuse for his absence"; "a fancied wrong"; "a fictional character"; "used fictitious names"; "a made-up story" [syn: fabricated, fancied, fictitious, invented, made-up]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Invented, as opposed to real.
    Romeo and Juliet are fictional characters.
    The janitor's account of the crime turned out to be entirely fictional.

Related terms


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Extensive Definition

Fiction is the telling of stories which are not entirely based upon facts. More specifically, fiction is an imaginative form of narrative, one of the four basic rhetorical modes. Although the word fiction is derived from the Latin fingo, fingere, finxi, fictum, "to form, create", works of fiction need not be entirely imaginary and may include real people, places, and events. Fiction may be either written or oral. Although not all fiction is necessarily artistic, fiction is largely perceived as a form of art or entertainment. The ability to create fiction and other artistic works is considered to be a fundamental aspect of human culture, one of the defining characteristics of humanity.

Elements of fiction

Even among writing instructors and bestselling authors, there appears to be little consensus regarding the number and composition of the fundamental elements of fiction. For example:
  • "Fiction has three main elements: plotting, character, and place or setting."
  • "A charged image evokes all the other elements of your story—theme, character, conflict, setting, style, and so on."
  • "For writers, the spices you add to make your plot your own include characters, setting, and dialogue."
  • "Contained within the framework of a story are the major story elements: characters, action, and conflict."
  • " . . . I think point of view is one of the most fundamental elements of the fiction-writing craft . . ."
As stated by Janet Evanovich, "Effective writing requires an understanding of the fundamental elements of storytelling, such as point of view, dialogue, and setting." The debate continues as to the number and composition of the fundamental elements of fiction.


Characterization is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. A character is a participant in the story, and is usually a person, but may be any persona, identity, or entity whose existence originates from a fictional work or performance.
Characters may be of several types:
  • Point-of-view character: the character from whom the story is viewed.
  • Protagonist: the main character of a story
  • Antagonist: the character that stands in opposition to the protagonist
  • Supporting character: A character that plays a part in the plot but is not major
  • Minor character: a character in a bit/cameo part


Plot, or storyline, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. It is the rendering and ordering of the events and actions of a story. On a micro level, plot consists of action and reaction, also referred to as stimulus and response. On a macro level, plot has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Plot is often depicted as an arc with a zig-zag line to represent the rise and fall of action. Plot also has a mid-level structure: scene and sequel. A scene is a unit of drama—where the action occurs. Then, after a transition of some sort, comes the sequel—an emotional reaction and regrouping, an aftermath.


Setting, the locale and time of a story, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. Sometimes setting is referred to as milieu, to include a context (such as society) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story. In some cases, setting becomes a character itself and can set the tone of a story.


Theme, a conceptual distillation of the story, is often listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction. It is the central idea or insight serving as a unifying element, creating cohesion and is an answer to the question, 'What did you learn from the piece of fiction?' In some cases a story's theme is a prominent element and somewhat unmistakable.


Style is not so much what is written, but how it is written and interpreted. Style in fiction refers to language conventions used to construct the story or article. A fiction writer may manipulate diction, sentence structure, phrasing, dialogue, and other aspects of language to create style or mood. The communicative effect created by the author's style is sometimes referred to as the story's voice. Every writer has his or her own unique style, or voice . Style is sometimes listed as one of the fundamental elements of fiction.


Types of prose fiction:
  • Flash fiction: A work of fewer than 2,000 words. (1,000 by some definitions) (around 5 pages)
  • Short story: A work of at least 2,000 words but under 7,500 words. (5-25 pages)
  • Novelette: A work of at least 7,500 words but under 17,500 words. (25-60 pages)
  • Novella: A work of at least 17,500 words but under 50,000 words. (60-170 pages)
  • Novel: A work of 50,000 words or more. (about 170+ pages)
  • Epic: A work of 200,000 words or more. (about 680+ pages)

Forms of fiction

Traditionally, fiction includes novels, short stories, fables, fairy tales, plays, and poems, but it now also encompasses films, comic books, and video games.
The Internet has had a major impact on the distribution of fiction, calling into question the feasibility of copyright as a means to ensure royalties are paid to copyright holders. Also, digital libraries such as Project Gutenberg make public domain texts more readily available. The combination of inexpensive home computers, the Internet and the creativity of its users has also led to new forms of fiction, such as interactive computer games or computer-generated comics. Countless forums for fan fiction can be found online, where loyal followers of specific fictional realms create and distribute derivative stories. The Internet is also used for the development of blog fiction, where a story is delivered through a blog either as flash fiction or serialblog, and collaborative fiction, where a story is written sequentially by different authors, or the entire text can be revised by anyone using wiki.

Uses of fiction

Although fiction may be viewed as a form of entertainment, it has other uses. Fiction has been used for instructional purposes, such as fictional examples used in school textbooks. It may be used in propaganda and advertising. It may be perpetuated by parents out of tradition such as with Santa Claus or to instill beliefs and values. Although they are not necessarily targeted at children, fables offer an explicit moral goal.



See also

Main list: List of basic fiction topics
fictional in Arabic: خيال
fictional in Catalan: Ficció
fictional in Danish: Fiktion
fictional in German: Fiktion
fictional in Esperanto: Fikcio
fictional in Spanish: Ficción
fictional in Estonian: Ilukirjandus
fictional in Finnish: Fiktio
fictional in French: Fiction
fictional in Indonesian: Fiksi
fictional in Icelandic: Skáldskapur
fictional in Italian: Fiction
fictional in Japanese: フィクション
fictional in Latin: Fictio
fictional in Dutch: Fictie
fictional in Norwegian: Fiksjon
fictional in Polish: Fikcja literacka
fictional in Portuguese: Ficção
fictional in Russian: Художественная литература
fictional in Simple English: Fiction
fictional in Albanian: Fiktiv
fictional in Swedish: Fiktion
fictional in Thai: นิยาย
fictional in Chinese: 小说

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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