Genres of Fiction: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Now, I know you’re all going, “Contemporary realistic… what again?!” It’s a long name for a simple genre of fiction, one highlighting the realistic lives of every day fictional characters in our own modern times. Think “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White or “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen.

At first glance, it might not sound very interesting. In fact, didn’t I just call it a “simple” genre? I can hear you avid writers screaming that you want complexity and detail, pathos and emotion, in all respects, thought-provoking material. I assure you, by simple, I merely mean easy to understand, but much more difficult to accomplish.

To understand Contemporary Realistic Fiction (CRF), we must understand its value in literature. Because it is cast in today’s day and age with familiar people, places, and things as part of the plot, many readers are naturally drawn to it. Further, readers relate more deeply to characters who go through events they can understand and experience themselves. In other ways, CRF enables readers to realize they aren’t the only ones going through certain ordeals in every day life and teach them how to cope with such situations.

Now that we’ve seen why CRF is so important, it’s time to learn how to write it well. Anyone can write fiction. Anyone can paste together trivial events of their own lives to create a cliché CRF novel. But BECAUSE of its strengths in understanding, the key to CRF is emotion.

Now, I do NOT mean in any way that it needs to be all lovey-dovey, gushy, romance writing (in fact, that’s often a bad way to express emotion), rather, that the emotions presented must 1) be authentic, 2) be relatable, and 3) influence both the characters within the book and the readers outside of it.

Authentic emotions MAKE SENSE. Now, I know that seems counterintuitive because feelings often arise without thought involved, but when writing, there has to be a good reason for every deeply felt passion. For example, you don’t want the caring father of six to sob over his child stubbing a toe. In contrast, you want his eyes brimming with tears but refusing to let them go as he watches his young son fight cancer. This sort of reaction not only makes sense but shows a balance in the character’s portrayal of emotion.

You want to express passions through characters and events in a way that is relatable yet unique. What I mean by this is that the emotions must often be paired with situations in which they are usually felt. In fact, most of the scene can even exemplify what other CRF writers have done before you or you yourself have experienced, BUT at least one detail needs to make the incident distinct, whether that be that the main character has dyed hair, the thief only steals clothespins, or the ceiling was painted with mermaid murals.

Influence. Emotions influence actions. Thus, it is so in books. The passions a character feels can spur them to make a rash decision, cause them to rethink the world around them, etc. Use this to your advantage. With the pathos you create, make your character do surprising things. Make them engage in actions so as to surprise, delight, or even horrify your audience. This will deepen your character and your plot, while also gaining more attention from readers. The greatest weapon in instilling emotions within your readers is the use of anticipation. It is that which makes a reader NEVER want to put a book down.

In conclusion, Contemporary Realistic Fiction is one of many genres of fiction on the market today, and now, it is one within your grasp to create.


Published by aspiringwriter111

Heyyyyy, random person reading my bio! There's a TON to know about me, but I think I'll keep it pretty simple. Basically, I'm an aspiring writer who somehow manages to make time in her already hectic life for creating new, fantastical worlds on a daily basis. I love dreaming up romances, adventures, and crazy new species of animals to include in my books. Fights with dragons, damsels in distress, and pirates are right up my alley, but I also enjoy writing of the sometimes torturous struggles of everyday life, like... doing chores!! *sigh* XD And remember: "Everything you can imagine is real." -Picasso

3 thoughts on “Genres of Fiction: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

  1. Yeah, these can be pretty enjoyable…A lot of stories have CRF influence, like This Present Darkness and a few types of ghost stories. What makes these stories count is the ultimate “what if?” factor where you take an almost true-to-life situation and you put your own spin on it. I like to call these “sensible stories”. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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