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Tales of fiction are imagined stories, as opposed to the facts, real events, and real people of nonfiction. While plays are imagined stories, the term fiction tends to refer primarily to novels, short stories, and epic poems. Fiction can be classified into various genres such as mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, romance, Westerns, thrillers, dramas, coming-of-age stories, and historical fiction (fiction based on true events from the past). Fiction can be written for any reading level, including children, young adults, and adults.
Writers have been creating fiction for many centuries. The Mesopotamian epic poem Epic of Gilgamesh, written c. 2150–1400 BCE, is one of the oldest. Yet, for centuries the focus was almost exclusively to publish nonfiction writing, such as religious texts or government documents. Low rates of literacy and the high cost/high labor associated with creating books meant that books needed to have an urgent purpose; fiction was not perceived to be of high value because its purpose is primarily entertainment.
This began to change in the twelfth century with the creation of stories based on the legend of King Arthur. The creation of the printing press in the fifteenth century made it much easier to produce books. The better literacy rates and increased leisure time that accompanied the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century caused a veritable explosion in the production of fiction for leisure reading.
In the twentieth century, cheaper production methods allowed books to be affordable to practically everyone, which further increased fiction reading. This trend began to change in the latter half of the century, however, with increasing competition from other leisure activities such as television and computers.
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