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FICTION - A definition



A definition

The most common form of fiction as a genre is the novel which was born on 18th century in Europe.

In England the novel was associated with the rising middle classes and with people lacking a classical education.

The novel is fictitious in fact it depicts imaginary events, characters and actions but they are representative of real life.

The novel is a narrative, a telling with its own characters, action, plot and setting, written in prose but it can also includes poetic elements.

The novel is an investigation of the human significance whose complexity requires a certain length.

The setting:

The setting is the place and the time of the story.

Time setting usually refers to the time of the day, the season, the year; but it also includes social and historical factors which are very important.

Place setting can be interior or exterior. A novel may begin with the description of a landscape and then provides important information about the characters who live in it. When the description is very detailed the setting may acquires the status of a character, almost becoming a protagonist of the story.

The story can be set abroad, for example, in exotic places.

The characters:

Characters are the people who appear in the novel. The presentation of the character can be direct (through what the writer tells the readers of his personality and appearance) or indirect (when the reader has to infer the features of the characters from his interaction with other characters, feelings and thoughts).

Depending on their role in the story, there can be major or minor characters. A distinction ca be made between round and flat characters.

Flat characters are caricature, they are built around a single psychological quality and they don't develop during the story.

Round characters pass through the crucial events of the story, change their personality as the narration develops. They are more complex and have more than one facet, like human beings.

The narrator:

The narrator is the speaking voice. He is not the writer, the author of the book, a real person. The narrator is only the voice who tells the story and gives the point of view from which the story is told. He may be internal (a character of the story) or external, a voice outside the story who tells events he has not taken part in.

  • The first person narrator employs the "I" mode. It can coincide with a character or the protagonist of the story who tells about his life. This narrator bring the reader close to the mind and feelings of the narrator, convey an impression of reality, restrict the reader's prospective.
  • The third person narrator knows everything about the events and the characters (it's also called omniscient). The omniscient narrator can be obtrusive when he addresses the reader making personal remarks or by providing comment on the society or on some characters. The obtrusive narrator reduces the emotional intensity. The narrator is unobtrusive when he shows what happens but he doesn't interfere with the story; he acts like a camera.

Character's speech and thoughts:

The techniques usually adopted by an author to represent the character's speech and thoughts are: monologue, soliloquy, dialogue, direct speech, indirect speech.

In free direct speech the character's voice momentarily replaces that of the narrator. Free direct speech is freed from inverted commas and verbs of reporting, like "said", "exclaimed", "replied". It's not "tagged" it's freed from every introduction expression.

Interior monologue is used to represent, in a novel, the unspoken activity of the mind before it is ordered in speech. This technique is freed from introductory expressions and from formal structures, logical and chronological order.

The interior monologue is characterized by two levels of narration: one external to the character's mind, the other internal. This king is characterized by the following devices:

  • the narrator is present within the narration. He guides, he addresses the reader through the story making appropriate comments and by adding descriptions.
  • The character stays fixed in a space but his thoughts moves freely in time. He is in the present but, his consciousness, goes in the past or in the future. He loose the perception of the external time to lead only his inner time, his interior time.


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