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Fiction – Definition and Types

In this article, I define and discuss the concept and different types of fiction in a brief but comprehensive manner.  

What is fiction? 

The word fiction gets its derivation from the Latin word “fictus” which means ‘to form or make’. It became a part of English to refer to making or forming something in imagination. 

In a general sense, the word fiction refers to a deliberately fabricated account of something, esp. an imagination-based literary work rather than a factual account.  To put it in simple words, it is literature developed from imagination. 

It can also be defined as the art of representing human life with the use of the written word or literature development on basis of imagination rather than on fact.

Fiction may be also be based on true stories or situations also. Writers create a new fictional narrative by contextualizing a set of combined real-life experiences. These experiences carry emotional resonance with contexts crafting a compelling narrative. 

Types of literature in fiction 

Types of literature in the fiction genre include novels, short stories, and the novella. 

1. Novel

The novel refers to a type of prose narrative of considerable/enough length with more than 5000 words. It carries/contains such imaginative human experiences through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting. 

Types of Novels 

There is an extensive range of types of novels, some of the more important are as follows: 

A. Literary fiction

Literary fiction refers to novels that do not fall into a conventional genre. These novels are fundamentally revolving around character rather than the plot. The novels of this type carry allegory and symbolism as a distinguishing feature compared to the genre and mainstream fiction

B. Genre fiction

Genre fiction refers to novels written in strict alignment with the conventional format. Such novels are more like the mainstream and are often written in traditional methods rather than the literary category of fiction. Genres coming under this type of fiction include romance, fantasy, horror, etc. They also include thrill-provoking narrations and children’s books.

C. Mainstream fiction

Mainstream fiction refers to a generalized type of novel. This category of fiction included a variety of fiction writings usually having words between sixty to ninety thousand.  The different novels in this category although different at the core carry the common characteristic that makes their authors recognizable and their writings appealing to the readers. 

2. Short story 

A short story as a fiction genre refers to a brief prose narrative shorter (in the number of words) than a novel. Contrary to a novel, it consists of only a few characters and episodes. Similarly, it is a concise narrative with a reduced complex plot. The characters are seldom fully developed, they only appear in their action or encounters.

3. Novella 

A novella is another narrative prose fiction with a length shorter than that of a novel and longer than a short story. 

According to the dictionary, it is “a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel”.

There is no fixed rule about the number of pages or words a novella should contain. However, according to some scholars, a novella should contain 17,500 to 40, 000 words. 

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