Sunday, March 18, 2012

What is Fiction with VS Grenier

I loved how the ICL broke down what fiction is to a writer when I first began my journey down the world of ink. They say, “Fiction is something made up—a story that originates in the mind of its creator and is then set down in writing. The whole idea is to use language in wildly creative ways, invent incredible worlds and develop wonderful—sometimes crazy—characters and plots.”

Simply put, fiction is based on facts or circumstances from our everyday lives. You can use memories, real events or even elements of facts you have learned in school, from an article, documentary or book, however, fiction only has touches of truth. The rest of fiction is an altered reality that seems real, but isn’t. Things happening can be plausible or not even possible as long as you can get your reader to believe in what is happen and suspend their disbelief.

Types of Fiction
When you begin shaping your story, keep an eye on the end product—genre of fiction. Is it an adventure? Sport story? A mystery? Comedy? Fantasy? A mixture?

  • Real-life fiction—Contemporary characters coping with problems, from everyday concerns to serious moral and social issues. Can be set in any historical backdrop to present day.
  • Multicultural fiction—Ranges from contemporary stories with ethnic elements to folktales and stories set in other lands.
  • Adventure—A quest, a flight, a challenge and plenty of obstacles along the way. The emphasis is on the fast-paced action.
  • Sports—What it takes to win, what it means to lose—in the context of a specific sport, specifically presented.
  • Mystery and Suspense—Puzzle solving in all its forms, from small backyard mysteries to real-world crime; though without depictions of actual violence except at the older teen to adult level.
  • Romance—Classic plots using authentic details of today’s culture and often bittersweet rather than happy endings.
  • Humor—Amusing characters and situations, quirky plot twists, neat resolutions. Humor that builds—not jokes or one-liners.
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction—Instant make-believe, invented worlds (whether past, future or extraterrestrial) for all readers. Highly appealing to YA and under readers.
  • Historical Fiction—Believable characters, a good story and imaginative research can bring even the most distant time and place alive.
  • Animal Stories—A beloved genre that’s been updated to stress documented animal behavior and habitats. Animals-as-humans remain fine story characters for young children; for older readers, realism in depicting animals is necessary.
Understanding the different types of fictional genres is important so you understand how much you need stay within our reality. 

Let’s look at Harry Potter for a moment. The story is a fantasy, however the story always starts in London—a real place and within our reality to a point. The “Magical World” of Harry Potter normally happen when he gets on the Hogwarts Express or enters into the Leaky Cauldron. However, some magical things do happen while Harry is in “Our World” and these things are easily explained away in the readers mind as “magic” so they are able to suspend their disbelief. 

But if you look deeper into the Harry Potter story you’ll notice it’s more than just a fantasy. You also have Romance, Humor, Sport and Multicultural elements as well. To make a great story, you’ll find there is always a blending of fictional genres. This makes the story come alive and believable to the reader.  

Writing prompt
Look at each sub-genre of fiction and write the FRIST word that comes to mind. Take those words and brainstorm a story idea. This is call “Free Association”. Using free association can provide a great springboard to help stimulate your creative adrenalin.

What I Came Up With
If you want, use it as an idea started and see where it takes you. Or  do your own “Free Association”.
Real-life fiction—friendship
Multicultural fiction—New York
Mystery and Suspense—Stanger
Romance—New love
Humor—Uneatable things
Fantasy and Science Fiction—Aliens
Historical Fiction—Baby Ruth
Animal Stories—Talking dog

I didn’t use everything I came up with, but here is the general idea that came to me.

A spot story set in New York City. The main character is an alien who was sent here to learn about Earth. He is in disguise as a human kid age 12, but looks totally different than us normally. He also has a companion who is a talking dog. The alien eats things that humans don’t eat such as paper or wood. He does make a friend with a kid who is loner but not by choice. They end up on a baseball team together and the alien because famous as a pitcher. This leads to more conflict as he becomes the first youngest major league ball player and he is worried the humans will find out who he really is. 

Of course this is all just random ideas I’m throwing out, but you see how one thing leads to another and then another? Now it’s your turn and remember, JUST HAVE FUN WITH IT. The actually plotting comes later. Just get your ideas down first.

BIO:VS Grenier is an award-winning children's author, founder & owner of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC., award-winning editor-in-chief of Stories for Children Magazine and chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int, and also, the host of the blog talk radio shows Stories for Children, Families Matter and What is Success on The World of Ink Network. Learn more at or at


T. Forehand said...

Great post with tips all writers should keep on hand as they write their version of fiction.

Author of The Cancer Prayer Book

Virginia S Grenier said...

Thanks Terri.

Scott said...

Don't forget, Harry Potter is usually also a mystery story of some sort.

Many of those categories have subcategories too.

Good post.

Virginia S Grenier said...

Very true Scott. Can't believe I forgot to list that one.