Metafictional (or Metatextual)


My working definition: This is a quality of certain types of literature [we might say that a certain book or movie is very “meta-fictional”] that seem to have two levels of dialogue going on at once.  The text, whatever it is, has a layer in which it generally proceeds as normal – it is a typical text.  At the same time, however, there is a second level of commentary in which the text knowingly comments on what it is doing.  It calls your attention to the process of its own creation, or the text will knowingly get in its own way, constantly interrupting what it is doing. 


Or to put it another way, the text draws attention to its status as an artifact (something that is made by someone for a certain purpose) in order to be funny, to try to break free from old forms, or to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality.  These are works in which the process by which the story itself is created becomes a central focus.


Although we may be getting a little far from the definition, here on some different ways a text can be especially metafictional:



One last definition: Metafiction emphasizes its refusal to take for granted how stories should be told and thus implicitly comments on the nature of fiction itself, playing with, and exploring, how stories are told.