What Is the Definition of Realistic Fiction?

Wilfred Y Wong/Photographer’s Choice RF/Getty Images

Realistic fiction is fiction that uses imagined characters in situations that either actually happened in real life or are very likely to happen. It further extends to characters reacting in realistic ways to real-life type situations. The definition is sometimes combined with contemporary realism, which shows realistic characters dealing with realistic social issues such as divorce, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and more.

In realistic fiction, the author usually is able to accurately portray common attitudes and social mores of the time being represented. Realistic fiction is often contemporary realism, but it can also be realistic in terms of historic events or time periods. Realistic fiction is often meticulously researched by the author writing it, or it depicts something that the author is personally, extensively familiar with. Realistic fiction can cover a large range of topics, from gang violence to obsessive fandom. The only major criteria is that it accurately represents whatever topic it covers.

Some characteristics of realistic fiction include a lack of stereotyping with well-rounded characters; a depiction of violence in a realistic, non-glamorous ways; slang and language appropriate to the culture or setting; and problematic story lines. Problem stories are a big part of realistic fiction and are essentially stories where the characters deal with some type of personal problem such as a death or disease.