The term contemporary fiction describes stories set in modern times that don’t bring in any elements of fantasy. It is technically a kind of realistic fiction, and the term "contemporary" is used specifically to distinguish it from realistic fiction with a historical setting, which is also generally common and fairly popular. Contemporary fiction is normally focused on giving people a window into some corner of everyday experience and showing them what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Some of the stories may be politically-motivated or designed to raise social awareness, while others exist purely for the purposes of entertainment.
When authors create contemporary fiction, there is generally a focus on making everything as realistic as possible. This often means avoiding any exaggeration, even including those that might be convenient for the purposes of satisfying the audience. Many fans who enjoy contemporary fiction relish this focus on realism and may even punish stories that drift too far afield into unlikely scenarios.
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Another common focus for authors who specialize in this type of fiction is social relevance. For example, they often make stories that focus specifically on issues like race relations, sexism, crime, or poverty. These authors often hope that the experience of reading a story may give the reader a better understanding of these issues than he would get from a nonfiction account dealing with the same kind of subject matter, which could potentially help the person develop more sympathy or a better understanding. Genre fiction stories also often do this, but usually it is much less direct than the way it is handled in contemporary realistic fiction.
Sometimes fans of contemporary fiction actually have a specific dislike for genre fiction. Some of these people may find it easier to identify with stories that seem more realistic, and others may dislike the tendency towards predictability or formulaic plot lines that may sometimes present themselves in genre stories. Certain literary critics also tend to favor contemporary fiction over genres in much the same way that movie critics often favor serious dramas over genre films. On the other end of the spectrum, many fans of entertainment-oriented genre stories have no interest in reading contemporary fiction under any circumstances. Some of those people may find the general dependence on absolute realism to be too restrictive, while others are simply uninterested in any kind of fiction that doesn’t have an escapist quality.