Literary Terms

Created by emilytorine 

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48 terms · Terms for point of view, characters, setting, tone, style, irony, theme, and symbols.

fiction

name for stories that are at least partially shaped, made up, or imagined

dramatic situation

when a person is involved in some conflict

exposition

the opening portion that sets the scene, introduces the main characters and background

complication

a new conflict

protagonist

the principle person who strives

suspense

pleasurable anxiety we feel that heightens our attention to the story

foreshadowing

indication of events to come

crisis

a moment of high tension

climax

moment of greatest tension at which the outcome is decided

resolution (denouement)

the outcome or conclusion

plot

artistic arrangement of events in a story

in media res

in the midst of things

flashback (retrospect)

a scene relived in a character's memory

scene

a vivid or dramatic moment described in enough detail to create the illusion that the reader is practically there

epiphany

some moment of insight, discovery, or revelation

story of initiation

story that tells of a character initiated into experience or maturity

narrator

speaker

omniscient narrator

all-knowing speaker

editorial omniscience

adds occasional comment or opinion

impartial omniscience

presents the thoughts and actions of the character but does not judge or comment on them

limited (selective) omniscience

see events through the eyes of a single character

total omniscience

has a knowledge of the minds of all the characters

objective point of view

does not enter the mind of any character but describes events from the outside

innocent (naïve) point of view

fails to understand all the implications of the story

unreliable narrator

narrator is deceptive, deluded, or deranged

stream of consciousness

describes the procession of thoughts passing through the mind

interior monologue

an extended presentation of a character's thoughts

character

presumably an imagined person who inhabits a story

motivation

sufficient reason to behave as one does

flat (static) character

stays the same, has only one or a few distinguishing marks

round (dynamic) character

change some time in the story and have more facets

allusion

a reference to some famous person, place, or thing in other fiction or actuality

antihero

protagonist who lacks in one or more of the usual attributes of a traditional here

setting

a story's time and place

regional writer

a writer who usually sets stories in one geographic area

naturalism

a fiction of grim realism

tone

whatever leads us to infer an author's attitude

style

individual traits or characteristics of a piece of writing

diction

choice of words

minimalist

writers of realistic unemotional fiction

verbal irony

the speaker's meaning is far from usual meaning

sarcasm

sour mocking statement

dramatic irony

the speakers doesn't realize irony of situation (reader does)

irony of fate (cosmic irony)

suggests that some malicious fate or other force is purposely frustrating human efforts

theme

whatever general idea or insight the story reveals

symbol

a thing that suggests more than its literal meaning

allegory

story in which people, places, and things form a system of clearly labeled equivalents

symbolic act

a gesture with larger significance than the usual

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