Fictive art is a term that applies to creative works that share certain characteristics although made by quite disparate kinds of practitioners. Some objects that fall under this categorization are considered art; others are not. The major defining elements are two:
- a well-developed narrative involving a constructed world. This world can be an entirely alternative universe; a world that intersects with our own; or a version of our world exhibiting a different timeline in the past, present, or future. The narrative is usually the key organizing device for the project as a whole. Its centrality explains why "fictive" is the first element in the term fictive art.
- expression of the narrative through real-world objects, events, and entities. For example, fictive artists typically create artefacts of their worlds, stage events that are called for in the narrative, or enact fictive personae. These undertakings may closely resemble traditional art practices, such as creating props or costuming for studio photography. The main distinction between fictive art and other artwork is often more a matter of emphasis than of practice; for example, what a traditional artist considers a prop (an ancillary form of production), a fictive artist is likely to consider part of the work itself. The creation of sets of objects related to one another by a framing narrative explains why "art" is the second element in the term fictive art.