Comparing fiction texts

Home learning focus

Learn how to compare fiction texts, understand the basics of comparing and why comparisons can be useful.

This lesson includes:

  • one video to help you understand the basics of comparing and contrasting fiction texts

  • two activities

Learn

A fiction text is usually formed from the writer’s imagination. Although it may be realistic, it may not be exactly based on factual events. Comparing fiction texts helps you to focus on their similarities and differences.

Watch these actors comparing two fictional scripts.

Romantic comedy and fantasy scripts are compared by two actors while rehearsing their scenes.

Focusing on similarities and differences

When comparing fiction texts look at the similarities between the texts - things those texts have in common. You can also contrast texts and focus on the differences between them - things that set the texts apart from each other.

You can plan your comparision by looking at each text and asking yourself the questions in the table below.


Features of a textQuestions to ask
SettingWhen and where is the text set?
GenreIs it a thriller, detective novel, a ghost story, a romance or something else?
Narrative perspectiveWho is telling the story?
Language choicesWhat word choices has the writer made? Are they using any specific literary techniques?
Narrative structureWhat order do the the events in the text happen in?
CharacterisationHow do the characters behave and speak? What do you find out about their appearance, beliefs and experiences?

Why is comparing fiction texts useful?

Comparing fiction texts is a good way to help you gain an understanding of each text. For example, comparing the way two characters are presented may help you understand how the writer wants the reader to feel about each of the characters.

Comparing texts can also deepen your understanding of the different times in which the texts are set. For example, comparing a novel set in the Victorian times with a novel set in the 21st century could reveal lots of differences in the values of those societies.

Structuring your comparison

It can sometimes be tricky to structure your writing when making a comparison. It’s helpful to have some sentence starters and linking words that compare:

  • similarly
  • likewise
  • equally

There are also helpful sentence starters and linking words that contrast:

  • in comparison
  • however

An example of how you might compare two texts is shown below:

The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner are both science fiction books which feature societies with frightening belief systems or extremely harsh rules, but the stories are told in very different ways. The main character of the Hunger Games is a female character, whereas in The Maze Runner the main character is male. The Hunger Games is written from the perspective of the female character, which makes the reader feel very close to her experiences. In comparison, The Maze Runner is written in the third person, using pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘they’, so the reader may feel a close connection to more than one character.

Practise

Activity 1

Try this quick quiz to check your understanding of how to compare texts.

Activity 2

Think about two different fictional TV shows or films that have a similar genre.

For example, you could pick Malory Towers and the Worst Witch. Both of these fictional dramas are about groups of girls at a school.

On a piece of paper make notes about the similarities and differences as you watch the shows, for example: both Malory Towers and Worst Witch have a mean character that tries to cause trouble.

When you've finished your notes, write a four paragraph comparison of the two shows. Remember to use the linking words for comparing and contrasting.

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt how to compare fiction texts and understand the basics of comparing and why comparisons can be useful.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you structure your comparisons.

There's more to learn

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