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On the one hand, this may be the easiest genre to define. Most of us are more familiar with fiction than with the other genres. We read novels from the time we begin to read. Accelerated reader programs in public schools rely primarily on novels and some nonfiction, but rarely include poetry or drama. It’s likely you’ve read more fiction than just about any other form, except perhaps textbooks. To define it, we might call it a form that tells an invented story using prose. That doesn’t get us too far, though, and once you start looking at the form in more detail, there’s still plenty to learn. One distinction I like to make about fiction for the undergraduate creative writing classroom, at least at the introductory level, is that we typically focus on the short story, rather than the novel, which is the most familiar. It is worth thinking for a moment about the differences between the novel and the short story forms. Obviously, the main difference is that one is much shorter than the other, but what does that mean for the short story writer?
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