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Elements of Fiction
elements of fiction
point of view
Independent Reading Page
Elements of Fiction/Writer's Craft:
The purpose of this document is to provide you with a reference for discussions about literature. You will consult this list as you write about your independent reading; you are also expected to use these terms when discussing texts in class.
– Time, place, and surroundings of a story, including
Time in history
Time of day
Place of action
– A character who speaks directly to the audience, introducing the action and providing commentary between scenes; depending on his/her point of view (limited, objective, omniscient) he/she may or may not be a character in the action. A narrator can be
first person or third person
Point of View
– The perspective through which the story is told, can be in
(I, me, we) – Is part of the action in the story.
Third person limited
(he, she, they) – Knows only the thoughts and feelings of the main character.
Third person omniscient
(he, she, they) – All-knowing – knows thoughts and feelings of other characters.
– A person represented in a work of literature. We learn about characters in literature through their characterization. Sub-definitions are:
– A character that is built upon a single idea or quality and is not very unique.
– A complex and more realistic character, with complex thoughts, emotions and motivations.
– A character who does not change throughout a work.
– A character that changes throughout a work.
The leading character, hero, or heroine.
- The character who opposes the protagonist.
– The design and ordering of events in a literary work. DO NOT confuse plot with story; story is a bare timeline-esque summary of the events, plot relates events in reference to character.
– The introduction of a story.
– The main problem in a story.
(rising action) – The problem in a story is introduced.
– The most exciting part of a story.
- The events after the climax.
(resolution, denouement) – The end – wraps up loose ends – “tying the knot.”
– An attempt made by the author to throw your predictions of what’s to come off track; this can come in the way of wrong clues.
– An abrupt ending at an exciting and often dangerous time in the plot. Its purpose is to keep the reader reading. It is usually found at the end of a chapter, but occasionally a book will end this way. (Not all open endings are suspenseful enough to be called cliffhangers.) Recently, books in some science fiction and fantasy series have ended in a cliffhanger, which encourages the reading of the other books in the series.
– The hint or clue in a narrative of future developments/outcomes.
– The struggle within OR between characters that is often the basis of a plot. Conflict may be external between characters or characters and society, or internal between ideas or within an individual.
– Conflict that happens inside a character.
Character vs. self
– Conflict that happens between a character & an outside force.
Character vs. character
Character vs. society
Character vs. technology
Character vs. nature
Character vs. supernatural
– A significant idea in a literary text. Theme is also a central idea or concept illustrated in a literary work. We may think of theme in a few different ways:
(of a passage)
(of a fable)
Point an author makes
, intentionally or unintentionally (longer work)
– Implying something very different than what is said. Irony is a general term for the contrast between appearance and reality; a contrast between what appears to be true and what is true.
– Occurs when a character says one thing and means something else; this is usually a source of humor for the audience (especially in a play).
– Occurs when the reader knows something a character does not know; the character is unaware of how things he or she does and says contrast with the truth.
Irony of Circumstance/Situation
– Occurs when a character's actions bring unexpected results; events turn out opposite of what is expected or what should be.
– Occurs when the author narrates an event that took place before the current time of the story. Flashback is more than memory; it is as if the character is reliving the event or experience as if it is happening to him/her in the present. The opposite effect is called a
– A person, place, object or event that stands for an abstract idea or condition; a tangible object that represents an intangible concept.
– Allusion means “reference” and is used to cause a read to make additional associations that connect a text to the world in some way. These connections could be text-to-text, text-to-world, or text-to-media. Sometimes allusions come in the form of “name-dropping” famous people’s names or names of well-known events and places. Often in literature allusions are made to mythology.
– The way the writer uses words to cause a reaction in the reader; may include (but is not limited to) the following: alliteration, onomatopoeia, puns, clichés, idioms, personification, repetition, imagery, sensory language, simile, metaphor, slang, dialogue and dialect.
– The repetition of consonant sounds in words that are close together in a poem.
– An extreme exaggeration (hyperboles are often metaphors or similes)
– The formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.
– Giving human characteristics to something nonhuman.
– Visually descriptive or figurative language.
– The use of details from the five senses to add color/depth to writing.
– Jokes exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.
– Overused expressions or ideas.
– Phrases whose meanings cannot be understood from the dictionary definitions of each word taken separately.
– A particular form of a language that is peculiar to a specific region/social group.
– Conversation between two or more people in a book, play, or movie.
– A type of language that consists of words/phrases that are very informal.
– Using a word or phrase more than once in a short passage, making a point.
– Comparing one thing with another thing of a different kind, using “like” or “as.”
– Comparing two unrelated things without using the words "like" or " as."
– The pattern of sounds made by varying the stressed and unstressed syllables.
– Two words that sound alike (the vowel sound of two words is the same, but the initial consonant sound is different).
– A writer's attitude toward subject, audience, and self.
– The atmosphere that is present in a literary work, creating a certain emotion or feeling from the audience.
– The design of the narrative. The plot is the series of events and actions that occur in a story. The structure of the plot is the method or sequence in which incidents in a narrative are organized/presented to the audience/readers.
– Beginning, middle, end.
– A plot that is delivered through a correspondence of letters, diary/journal entries.
– This could be when an author goes back and forth between multiple realities, or when the time sequence is reordered in a fashion that is not chronological.
Types of Fiction
– A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.
– A text or performance that uses irony, ridicule, or intellect to expose or attack human immoral behavior, foolishness, or stupidity.
– An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.
Literary Nonfiction and Historical, Scientific, and Technical Texts
Includes the subgenres of adventure stories, historical fiction, mysteries, myths, science fiction, realistic fiction, allegories, parodies, satire, and graphic novels
Includes one-act and multi-act plays, both in written form and on film
Includes the subgenres of narrative poems, lyrical poems, free verse poems, sonnets, odes, ballads, and epics
Includes the subgenres of exposition, argument, and functional text in the form of personal essays, speeches, opinion pieces, essays about art or literature, biographies, memoirs, journalism, and historical, scientific, technical, or economic accounts (including digital sources) written for a broad audience
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