Fictional literature: what it is, its emergence, characteristics and representative works


What is fiction literature?

When we speak of fiction, as a term, we refer to a set of works whose contents, characters and events are the product of the imagination. Although it is possible to talk about fiction in different fields such as cinema, today we will focus on fiction within literature, what many have called fiction literature.

What is fiction literature

Thus, fiction literature is any text whose content is the result of invention and is distinguished from other works of non-fiction literature by being synonymous with imagination, since what is far from fiction, that is, non-fiction, constitutes other types of content based on real facts, such as memoirs, biographies, documentaries, among others.

What about science fiction? Here it is important to emphasize the difference between these two modalities. In general, we speak of fiction when we are dealing with a fact that is a product of the imagination. However, when we refer to science fiction, we are talking about a subgenre in which the plot revolves around not only an invention, but also one that is related to discoveries or advances, which is why it is often related to futurism, since it usually incorporates or attempts to deal with the future.

Emergence of fiction literature

Many experts affirm that the emergence of fiction is precisely in the birth of the term “science fiction”. This term would emerge in the year 1926 thanks to the fact that it was used on the cover of one of the most important magazines of the genre at the time, the magazine Amazing Stories by Hugo Gernsback. Although this can be considered as the first moment in which the use of the term appears, it is necessary to go to its primary sources.

This leads us to consider that the first fictional texts were written many years after the emergence of the term. One of the most important works of this type of literature is the work Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley in 1818, which is classified as the first fictional story. These first great stories gave way to the emergence of new literary explorations around this environment in which the author Edgar Allan Poe also participated in the nineteenth century with works such as The Incomparable Adventure of a ta Hans Pfaall.

The twentieth century is undoubtedly one of the most important moments in the development of this literature, as many more authors begin to emerge with works of great relevance within science fiction, among which we find George Orwell or Aldoux Huxley, among other authors, who will become precursors of the literary subgenre and who will be the gateway for important texts in posterity that will give rise to diversity of adaptations within their possible formats.

Development of fiction in literature

One of the most important aspects of this type of literature and its development is that in the process a reality is created, simulated or invented that is different from life as we know it. Thus, for its creation, it tends to imitate processes of reality that allow it to represent new facts and stories that may resemble reality. However, these usually have a revealing perspective that is presented to the reader as a truth about human life.

This is how it has been called fiction with a tendency to realism or realistic fiction, where the story tends to imitate reality in a faithful way without this meaning that it transforms and ceases to be fiction, since it is fed by the author’s imagination and remains his own invention. In this way it is not taken as a truth, even though it is enriched with literary resources, because its elaboration is oriented to be valued, thanks to these elements that allow it to adhere to the aesthetics for the construction of a literary work.

Now, let us see which are the subgenres that we find in fiction within literature and that are born from the possible explorations on the imagination and invention of the authors. Thus, we find the following:

Science fiction

It is characterized because its content adopts elements with a futuristic sense. However, it may present scenarios of the past in its development. Other possibilities emerge in science fiction, such as utopia, dystopia and uchronia.

Historical novel

These are texts whose content refers to or includes within its story, elements, historical characters or periods of history, and its creation starts from there.


Fantastic literature, which we have already talked about in another section, is all types of literary texts that include elements, characters or scenarios that are magical or related to it, such as fairies, elves, witches, among others.

Characteristics of fiction literature

Characteristics of fiction literature

It is time to review the most important features that constitute fiction literature and, in this sense, the elements that must be taken into account when distinguishing this type of texts, or creating them. Among them we find the following:

Reality in fiction

One of the most important aspects of the development of fictional literature is the relationship it has with reality. Although it is a type of literature in which the content is a product of the artist’s imagination, it is also true that it takes references from his own reality or uses it as inspiration for his creations. Thus, we can find parallel worlds, altered realities, among others.

Importance of narrative use

One of the most important particularities that we find of this type of texts, is that it is fundamentally located in the narrative genre. Fiction literature can be presented in greater or lesser extent, but in few cases it will be applied within poetry. One of the factors for which it develops in this genre has to do with the ease of descriptions or spaces that the narrative allows the writer to build imaginary worlds.

Varied themes

Fiction is a very broad field in which writers have a wider range of spaces for creation, which allows them to move through their own imaginary worlds with varied themes. Thus, we often find among its themes humanity, time, life, among others.

Diversity of formats

Fiction literature has found its own spaces within the different literary genres, so it is possible to identify this type of texts in different formats, such as the short story, the short story and the novel. However, its exploration and progress has allowed us to find this type of content in other environments such as film, video games, comics and animation, often related to science fiction, one of its aspects.

Exploration of the universe

In many cases, fiction writers are stimulated by the exploration of the universe, an element that becomes, in most cases, the scenario of their own creations. This is one of the most distinctive features of this type of literature, in which the characters and events travel through spaces of the universe, encountering diverse situations such as contact with other creatures, organizations of creatures in other worlds, explanations about the origin of the universe, among others.

Most important authors and works of fiction literature

In the world of fiction in the literary field, there are many works that we can find, as well as those that have been denominated under the name of science fiction, one of its most important derivatives. In this sense, we can find great works such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, I am Legend by Robert Matheson, Neuromancer by William Gibson, Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares, among others.

It is also necessary to mention some of its most important authors who have become important references for the development of fiction literature. Among them are: Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, J. G. Ballard, Brian W. Aldiss, Ray Bradbury, Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bloy Casares, Karel Capek, Stanislav Lem, Frank Herbert, Poul Anderson, Robert A. Heinlein, Anthony Burgess, among others.

The world of literature is full of possibilities, among them this one that fiction literature offers us and which is perhaps one of the most important. That is why we invite you to review our section dedicated to Literature, where you can learn much more information about this artistic field and its evolution over time.