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a series of events in a narrative that is carefully constructed by the author for artistic purpose; a series of related incidents that build upon one another as the story develops, meant to entertain the reader

simple narrative account

just a chronological description of real events. Its purpose is to tell what happened

plotless short story

a very modern creation that is pleasurable to read as it describes characters in a situation, but does not employ the development or resolution of a conflict.

in medias res

the story is opened in the middle of the action and then information about the beginning of the action is supplied to the reader through flashbacks and other devices for exposition.

frame story

a story within which another story or stories can be told

framed story

the story within another story

typical plot structure order

1. exposition
2. conflict & complications
3. technical climax
4. resolution
5. conclusion


background information on the characters, setting and other events necessary for understanding the story are given and the conflict is often introduced

rising action

the conflict is developed with complications, suspense (anticipation as to the outcome of events) is created, and foreshadowing (hints at later events) may be used


the interplay between opposing elements; the plot of a story is produced by and propelled

internal conflict

protagonist vs. self

external conflict

protagonist vs. others (struggles with people or society)
protagonist vs. environment (external struggle with nature)

technical climax

the turning point in the plot at which the outcome of the action is determined; often, the protagonist changes or has an opportunity to change at this point; after this point, the conflict begins to come to an end

dramatic climax

point of greatest interest or intensity of the story. This is subjective.


the events following the technical climax in which the outcome is actually worked out; works out the decision that was arrived at during the technical climax
resolves the conflict


the final event of a story's plot


temporary change of direction


the represented time and place of events in a literary work

the four functions of setting

1. to help understand the characters and their actions
2. to help create mood and atmosphere
3. to facilitate plot development by being involved in the conflict
4. pathetic fallacy

pathetic fallacy

a technique using the setting, or nature, to parallel or mirror the mood of a character or of the story


a fictional personality created by an author


the technique a writer uses to create and reveal characters in a work of fiction; credibility and consistency are essential

two methods of characterization

1. expository
2. dramatic

expository characterization

telling the reader about a character's personality in a straightforward manner; this method is quicker and more direct

dramatic characterization

showing the reader what a character is like through descriptions of thought, dialogue, action, etc.; this method is less quick, more indirect, but often more interesting


the reasons that cause characters to act the way they do


the central character in a work of fiction; the character who sets the action of the plot in motion


the principal opponent of the main character; the person or thing working against the protagonist

round character

a character who is well described and whose thoughts and actions are clearly revealed during the development of the story

flat character

a character who is not well developed in a story

dynamic character

a character who grows, learns or changes in some significant way throughout the story; a character is different at the end of the story than at the beginning

static character

a character who resists change or refuses to change during the story

foil character

a character who contrasts in some important way with a more important character; a character who, through contrast, underscores the distinctive characteristics of another

consistent character

a character whose speech, thoughts and actions are what the reader has been lead to expect from that particular character

stock character

a type of character that is always found in abundance in a particular type of story

stereotyped character

a character created according to widely held, often narrow-minded, ideas; this character has no individuality and is not well developed

point of view

(perspective) the physical and psychological relationship between the narrator (the teller of the story) and the story's characters and events

four types of point of view

1. first person
2. third-person objective
3. third-person limited omniscient
4. third person omniscient


the narrator is a character in the story. Narrator ≠ protang. "I"

third-person objective

the narrator is not a character in the story and reports only what can be seen and heard. "fly on the wall"

third-person limited omniscient

the narrator is not a character in the story and reports not only what can be seen and heard, but also the thoughts and feelings of one of the characters "he/she"

third-person omniscient

the narrator is not a character in the story and reports not only what can be seen and heard, but also the thoughts and feelings of all of the important characters "he/she"


a controlling idea or message of a literary work that is a general truth or commentary about life, people and the world that is brought out in a story

three guidelines to stating a theme

1. must be a complete declarative sentence
2. must be a general truth about life
3. must be clearly brought out throughout the entire work, not just part of it


describes the general feeling of the story itself, usually established by the setting's description


describes the reader's state of mind after she finishes the story (deals with readers' emotions)


the distinctive handling of language by a writer through the purposeful selection of words (diction ) and sentence structure (syntax )


refers to a writer's word choice


refers to the arrangement--the ordering, grouping, and placement--of words within a phrase, clause, or sentence


the author or speaker's attitude toward the characters, events or audience conveyed by details and descriptive words used by the author


the use of something concrete to represent something abstract; using an object in the story to represent an idea, concept, quality or condition


contrast between the way things truly are and the way they appear to be

three types of irony

1. verbal irony
2. dramatic irony
3. situational irony

verbal irony

a discrepancy between the literal meaning of a word and the meaning actually conveyed; saying one thing but meaning another

dramatic irony

a discrepancy between knowledge held by a reader and a character's ignorance of that knowledge; when the reader knows something a character doesn't

situational irony

a discrepancy between the expected outcome of a situation and the actual outcome; a twist in the plot

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