Realistic Fiction - Description of Story Elements and Quality Characteristics

Characters, plot, setting, theme, events, problems, mirror real life. May be based on real life events, but setting is more every time than historical setting.

Story Elements


  • Characterization Characters are ordinary real people.
  • Characters usually change as a result of a problem and must to be able to resolve it.


  • Place is imaginary, but possible.
  • Time is anytime or no time.
  • Can take a hard line and say it must be of this world and totally plausble as we know this world from immediate present to past. Or could move toward future and include science fiction, time travel. However, if and where would science fiction and other future fantasy fit?


  • Must be plausable and believable.
  • Usually problem or puzzling event for characters to resolve.
  • Reader/listener usually feel that the story really happened or may want to believe that it did.


  • Life themes as well as good versus bad/evil.


  • Author usually uses foreshadowing or clues to tease the reader/listener's curiosity.
  • Events are accurate, but don't necessarily real life.
  • Dialog, artifacts, feelings, are from the real world and described accurately.


  • Feel that it really happened. Children will often ask if it was real and be disappointed when told, no.

Point of View

  • Could be any. Often third person narrative.

Quality Characteristics

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©