Fiction: fiction derives from the latin terms ficio: the “act of fashioning, shaping or making” (Kennedy 63) and fingere: “to mold” or “to shape to a design,” but also “to fake” (Mikics 121). It is a vague and general term used to describe an imaginative piece of work that is usually written in prose or verse, and covers any narrative literary work that is invented, rather than being based on history or facts. It does not normally cover poetry and drama, though they both incorporate many examples of fiction. As soon as an author integrates any sort of element contrary to the facts of the actual event, their work would immediately be classified into the fictive category. Fictions are mainly written for pleasure and entertainment, but on occasions it would also instruct, inspire, and persuade. Another definition by Raymond Williams in his book Keywords for “fiction,” is that it is an “imaginative literature” (Williams 134). That definition still stands as of today, although a fiction can also mean a lie or an act of feigning (Dictionary.com) and is usually associated with novels and short stories.
Example: In Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion novel, there are factual appearances of characters and events such as “When Ambrose Small, the millionaire, disappeared in 1919, it was discovered that the police had his Bertillon record.” (Ondaatje 55) which describes the actual disappearance of a man whose existence was genuinely recorded down in our history books. Despite this being indeed a fact, the novel depicts a scene where Mr. Small receives a visit from the protagonist Patrick Lewis, and engages to set him on fire with the intent of murder. This encounter is completely fictive since there was no such meeting with any Patrick Lewis character at a farm house, or assaulting of the man in question after the departure of Mr. Small, that was ever recorded down in reality. Thus for having included this portion of the author’s creative writing, if we go through the catalogues of our local public libraries to look for Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion novel, it is categorized under “Adult Fiction” because even though the novel is based on some historical elements – characters, settings, speeches, etc. –the majority of characters and events are “made up” and therefore renders the novel in its entirety, fictional.
“Fiction.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Web. 26 Jan. 2011.
“Fiction.” The Longman Dictionary of LiteraryTerms: Vocabulary for the Informed Reader. New York: Pearson/Longman, 2006. Print.
“Fiction.” A New Handbook of Literary Terms. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. Print.
Ondaatje, Michael. In the Skin of a Lion. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1987. Print.
Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print.