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Fiction is a story or setting that is derived from imagination —in other words , not based strictly on history or fact. Fiction can be expressed in a variety of formats, including writings, live performances, films, television programs, animations, video games , and role-playing games , though the term originally and most commonly refers to the narrative forms of literature (see literary fiction), including novels , novellas, short stories, and plays. Fiction is occasionally used in its narrowest sense to mean simply any "literary narrative ". A work of fiction is an act of creative imagination , so its total faithfulness to the real- world is not typically assumed by its audience . Therefore, fiction is not commonly expected to present only characters who are actual people or descriptions that are factually accurate. Instead, the context of fiction, not adhering precisely to the real world , is generally understood as being more open to interpretation. Characters and events within a fictional work may even be set in their own context entirely separate from the known universe : an independent fictional universe . Fiction is regarded as the traditional opposite of non-fiction, whose creators assume responsibility for presenting only the historical and factual truth; however, the distinction between fiction and non-fiction can be unclear, for example, in postmodern literature .