What is fiction

What is fiction?

The term fiction comes from the French "belles lettres". The German translation of "beautiful literature" is somewhat unfortunate and misleading. Fiction doesn't have to be beautiful or witty. Rather, fiction refers to any type of literature that is not part of scientific or philosophical non-fiction and specialist literature. In the Anglo-Saxon countries, a neutral distinction is made between fictional and non-fictional literature.

Fiction includes all forms of fictional literature like essay, story, short story, novella, fable, fairy tale, crime thriller and novel. In addition to the prose stories, it also includes poetry and drama. In the narrower sense, however, the term fiction is often applied to the narrative entertainment literature limited - perhaps also because poems and plays are written less often, are even less published and almost never end up on the Spiegel bestseller list. Incidentally, this is based on the Anglo-Saxon definition of the term, with its two categories “non-fiction” and “fiction”.

There was once …

Once upon a time, long before the invention of writing and printing, people sat around the campfire and told each other stories. It was told in order to exchange experiences, to pass on experiences, to convey knowledge. The knowledge handed down ensured the survival of mankind to this day.

But the story was also told to entertain, because TV, our modern campfire, had not yet been invented. So at the beginning of all literature there is the word in its true meaning. Fairy tales and legends are originally orally handed down literary genres. Homer's great epics such as the Iliad and the Odyssey are also based on orally transmitted stories that go back to the second millennium BC. Homer's poems originated in the 8th century BC. And are considered to be the beginning of our western literature. And since the art of storytelling did not die, it is still alive today ...

In place of free oral storytelling, however, the written narrative form has taken over. Novels, thrillers, short stories, short stories ... they all tell stories. They all want to entertain - and sometimes also to teach. Today as then, good storytellers know what is important: both listeners and readers want to be captivated. Even those who only want to teach must ensure that the reader does not fall asleep while reading. The first commandment in good storytelling is therefore: You shouldn't be bored! Whatever the author's intention, he has to captivate his readers - right from the start.