Prose Fiction

We will look at terms you need to be comfortable with when discussing Prose Fiction.

Forms of Prose Fiction


An extended work of fiction written in prose. Its magnitude permits a great variety of characters, greater complication of plot (or plots), greater development of the characters’ social environment, and more sustained exploration of character and motives than do the shorter, more concentrated modes.


A short tale in prose. In this type, there are fewer conflicts than a novel, but more complicated ones than a short story. They are generally not divided into chapters and tend to be read in one sitting.

Short Stories

A fictional work of prose that can range from 1,000 to 20,000 words. Short stories tend to use uncommon prose styles or literary devices to tell their story. All short stories aim at unification of characterisation, theme and effect.

Elements of Prose Fiction

Narrative Technique

Also referred to as literary devices, they provide a deepre meaning and help the reader to use their imagination to visualise situation. There are many different types of narrative techniques related to style, plot and narrative perspective. Some examples are alliteration, flashback and first person narrative respectively.

Point of View

This signifies the way the story gets told. This is the mode established by the author by means of which the reader is presented with the characters, dialogue, actions, settings and events which constitute the narrative in a work of fiction.


This describes the strategies an author uses to present and develop the characters in a narrative. The use of descriptive techniques will vary from character to character.


This is the general locale, historical time, and social circumstances in which its action occurs.


A general concept or doctrine, implied or obvious, that a work of fiction incorporates and persuades the reader.


In a narrative, it is constituted by events and actions, as these are rendered and ordered towards achieving particular artistic and emotional effects.


The manner of linguistic expression in prose or verse; i.e.  how speakers or writers say what they want to say.

 Literary Devices


See Poetry


See Drama


See Drama/Poetry


See Drama


This is a passing reference, without explicit identification, to a literary or historical person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage.

Structural Devices

Stream of consciousness

Long passages of introspection in which the narrator records in detail what passes through a character’s awareness.

Interior Monologue

This is a type of stream of consciousness, where the reader is presented with the course and rhythm of consciousness precisely as it occurs in a character’s mind. Unlike the stream of consciousness, in the interior monologue, the author does not intervene, or intervenes minimally as a describer, guide or a commentator. The changes and nuances in the mental processes are not tidied into grammatical sentences of a logical coherent order. The interior monologue is sometimes described as the exact presentation of the thoughts of consciousness; bear in mind that this is difficult to produce.


Narrative or scenes placed in a piece, often justified or naturalised as a memory, a reverie, or a confession by one of the characters, which represent events that happened before the time at which the work opened.


This is a literary device in which a writer gives a hint about what is to come. The reader is then able to develop expectations about the outcome of the story. This device is usually used at the beginning of the story or the a chapter. Other methods can be used to convey foreshadowing as well, for example the title of a novel.

Time Frame

A period of time during which something has occurred or is expected to take place.


A conspicuous element, such as a type of incident, device, reference of formula, which occurs frequently in works of literature. For example, the ugly old woman, who sometimes sells fruits or begs, turns out to be a beautiful enchantress or woman with powers for the sole purpose of teaching the characters in the story a lesson.


This is a literary technique that places two or more, ideas, places, characters and their actions side by side in a narrative or a poem for the purpose of developing comparison and contrasts.

Types of Fiction


Also termed an apologue, is a short narrative, in prose or verse, that exemplifies an abstract moral thesis or principle of human behaviour; usually, at its conclusion, either the narrator or one of the characters states the moral in the form of an epigram.

Science Fiction

Novels or short stories that represent an imagined reality that is radically different in its nature and functioning from the world as we know it. The setting is often another planet or the imagined future of our world. Often, the term science fiction is specifically applied to those narratives in which an explicit attempt is made to present the fictional world as a possibility using confirmed or imagined scientific principles, or possible advances in technology.


These are often referred to as coming of age stories. The subject of these stories tend to focus on the development of the protagonist’s mind and character in the passage from childhood through varied experiences into maturity which involves recognition of one’s identity and role in the world.


The prose romance emphasises adventure. It is frequently cast in the form of the quest for an ideal, or the pursuit of an enemy; and the non realistic and occasionally melodramatic events are claimed to project in symbolic form the primal desires, hopes and terrors in the depths of the human mind, and to be therefore analagous to the materials of dream, myth, ritual and folklore.


A narrative whether in prose or verse, in which the agents and actions, and sometimes the setting as well, are contrived by the author to make sense literally and convey a meaning not set forth in the narrative. For example, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.


Takes setting, characters and events from history and makes them crucial for the central characters and the narrative.


Narrative conveyed entirely by an exchange of letters.

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