Metafiction (Ashwin)


Definition: Metafiction is a form of fiction in which the author self-consciously alludes to the artificiality or literariness of a work by parodying or departing from novelistic conventions and traditional narrative techniques.

In other words:

Metafiction is self-conscious about language, literary form, storytelling, and directly or indirectly draw attention to their status as artifacts.

Why does it exist?

Metafiction is frequently used as a form of parody or a tool to undermine literary conventions and explore the relationship between literature and reality, life, and art.

In stage plays – particularly comic ones – it is relatively normal to use the metafictional device of an actor speaking directly to the audience (or breaking down the “invisible fourth wall”). The actor making the aside is deliberately acknowledging the fact that the story being told is a fiction being watched on a stage by an audience.

Finally, metafiction is ultimately a rejection of traditional storytelling. If it has all been done already, some writers say, then to write a traditional novel is mere repetition. So let’s rip up the rule book! Let’s write a fiction about ourselves writing a fiction!


Some Examples from movies, TV shows and novels:

Stranger than fiction: Stranger Than Fiction. … It’s a metafictional story, where a person recognizes he is the character in a work of fiction and struggles to escape.

Fight Club: The kind of movie, that always reminds you that you are watching a movie.

House of Cards: Kevin Spacey talking to the audience as Frank Underwood to give out the minute details of what he did and why he did it

The Office: Characters talking to a camera and treating the audience as one of the characters in the show, they all tell their perspectives to

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Throughout the novel, characters consult The Guide, and the information is shared directly with readers. This approach to metafiction is a book-within-a-book

Still confused?

Then I’ll try to make it clearer. Metafiction is fiction about fiction. It is a novel or short story (or film or play) in which the author knowingly draws attention to the fact that it is being made up.


1. “You know this book you are holding in your hands? Sorry to break it to you, dear reader, but it’s a work of fiction. The characters, the events – I made it all up, right out of thin air. But here’s the deal. I realize that pretending that this is a real account of something that actually happened makes the reading more pleasurable. So to help you do that, I will do everything in my power as the creator of this fiction to conceal the fact that not a word of it is true.”

2. The author, in the midst of describing a character, for example, talks directly to the reader about character description itself, saying something like: “Charles was far more handsome, in fact, that this description suggests. He was movie star handsome, the kind of man only a camera could do justice to. But writers, alas, do not have cameras in their toolbox, and so these words will have to suffice.”

Here are some metafiction devices you can use in your own writing:

1. A story about a writer creating a story

2. A story about reading a book

3. A story that features itself (as a narrative or as a physical object) as its own prop or MacGuffin

4. A story containing another work of fiction within itself

5. A story addressing the specific conventions of story, such as title characters conventions, paragraphing or plots

6. A novel where the narrator intentionally exposes himself or herself as the author of the story

7. A book in which the book itself seeks the interaction with the readers

8. Narrative footnotes, which continue the story while commenting on it

9. A story in which the characters are aware that they are in a story


1. A teen author of the book “Dead in Bed” is stuck at home with a rare medical condition

2. He is a new ghost and still learning to scare people

3. A musician discovers a melody that changes a lot of things

4. A talentless author becomes famous for deceiving people

5. A cop is charged with a crime

6. An artist paints a gothic painting, but something tells him to destroy it, otherwise …

7. There is a knock, but it’s coming from inside

8. You work in a circus as a clown, but you laugh at them

9. Tomorrow is going to be all about yesterday

10. The time slows down, when you talk about it


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