In literature, fiction encompasses written works that are defined by narratives or stories that are created, invented, and made up by the writer. 

Essentially, fictional works feature elements such as plot, characters, setting, and theme. Fictional works primarily take the form of novels, novellas, and short stories.


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When a literary work is labelled fiction, this indicates to the reader that the written content is original and unique to the author’s imagination. This allows for expansive creative opportunities on the part of writers and encourages suspension of disbelief among readers in order to accept the “world” as it is invented and presented by the author.

Here are some examples of well-known literary Fiction Novels

  • The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  • War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  • Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Common Examples of Genres in Fiction

There are many types of genre fiction. As such, these works tend to meet certain expectations of the reader in terms of setting, characters, plot, and theme.

Here are some common examples of genres in fiction:

  • Mystery
  • Horror
  • Science Fiction
  • Dystopian
  • Romance
  • Fantasy

What is Literary Fiction? 

There is no strict definition for the term literary fiction. However, literary works share certain aspects and are differentiated at a certain level from works of genre fiction, primarily in terms of what is considered literary tradition. Here are some characteristics that are featured in most works of literary fiction:

  • Use of artistic language, including advanced and/or elevated wording and imagery
  • Use of literary devices including symbolism, metaphor, allegory, etc.
  • Ambiguity in plot and subplots, with no set plot “formula” or conclusion
  • The narrative that is character-focused and driven
  • Exploration of historical and cultural events and patterns
  • Exploration of philosophical themes, including the human condition and the power of nature

Examples of Fiction in Literature

People enjoy reading fictional literary works for many reasons, including entertainment, education, escape, and even connection with others. Reading fictional literature develops imagination, empathy, understanding, and progress.

Example 1: Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)

It is one thing to write as a poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

This is considered the first modern novel. Though the novel chronicles the title character’s manic quest as an aging nobleman to become a Spanish knight, the story is also a reflection of the influence of knightly tales and other fantasy works on readers. In fact, Cervantes’s novel is both an embrace and criticism of literary romance as well as an examination of the role and responsibility of the artist in society.

Cervantes’s novel is considered a significant work of Spanish literature and a touchstone of classic literary fiction, influencing writers across time and region. As this passage indicates, Don Quixote explores the meaning and purpose of fiction and nonfiction writing as it relates to both the expectations of the reader and the implied obligation of the writer. In addition, Cervantes’s innovative narrative form in creating the first modern novel opened the gate for writers everywhere to approach fiction and imaginative expression in original, expansive, and groundbreaking ways.


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