Of course, the people in short stories are not real, in the ordinary sense of the word.

I want to know what does the phrase "ordinary sense of the word" mean? I find the meaning of single word in my dictionary. But I can't suggest this phrase meaning? I think it means "common understanding way".

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    You can find the meaning of the adjective ordinary, and of sense, and we assume you know what a word is. Please edit your question to tell us what you think the phrase might mean, based on the dictionary definitions of ordinary and sense. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 24 '16 at 2:17
  • @P.E.Dant I added my opinion. – learner Sep 24 '16 at 2:38
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    ...And you are correct! The writer is saying: In the common way of understanding the word "real." If you use a good dictionary (or even better, several of them) you will learn to trust it—and to trust your own ability to figure things out. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 24 '16 at 2:45

It means the dictionary definition, the common meaning of the word, as opposed to a specialized technical meaning or a poetic or not-literal meaning.

I saw an example not long ago where a writer wanted to praise people who work hard, take care of their families, are honest, and so on. So he said, "Mr Miller is not a hero in the ordinary sense of the word. But he is a hero in his community" etc. That is, he's not a hero in the normal sense of braving fighting the enemy in war or some such. But he's a hero because people like him make society work.

In this case, I can't say for sure without reading the context. But obviously a character in a story is not literally a real person. They're not real "in the ordinary sense of the word". I'd guess the writer goes on to say that they can be "real" in the sense that they can behave like real people behave, or that they can seam real to the reader.

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