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Key literary elements and terms which could appear on the final exam.

abstract subject

a broad or general statement of the subject of a story.


a reference, sometimes subtle, to an earlier literary work or historical event or character.


the person or force which is set up in conflict against the main character


the methods by which an author builds and develops the identities of people in a story


the high point of tension and suspense in a story

concrete subject

the literal, specific subject of a story

colloquial language

a style of writing that reflects how people actually speak, not necessarily standard English.


the tension between the protagonist and the antagonist in a story


the emotional spin of a word


the dictionary definition of a word


conversation between two or more characters


the level and type of language and vocabulary used

elements of literature

the parts or building blocks used by writers to create fiction


the process of revealing essential information about the story usually early in the narrative.

flat character

a simple character who does not change or develop in the course of a story

figurative language

imaginative and non-literal uses of language

first person narrator

the voice telling the story refers to him or herself as an integral part of the story


a word or phrase that triggers a sensory perception


the effect of the surface meaning of a word or phrase being undercut by a different underlying meaning

limited omniscient narrator

3rd person point of view restricted to the thoughts and feelings of a single character


a figure of language where one thing is compared directly to another


the desires or the goals or aspirations of a character which direct his or her actions and choices.


the person whose voice is telling the story

omniscient narrator

3rd person point of view; all knowing; able to see inside all the characters


a figure of language where a nonhuman thing is endowed with human characteristics


the storyline; the sequence of events making up the story

point of view

the perspective from which a story is told


conventional English arranged in sentences and paragraphs.


usually the main character


the point at which the conflict in a narrative is brought to an end or at least suspended

rising action

the increase of tension or suspense in a narrative

round character

someone who is complex and has a range of characteristics, possibly even contradictory ones


the time and the location of a story


a figure of language where two things are compared using the words "like" or "as"


a writer's voice as reflected in their word choices and their sentence structure and their tone


a secondary storyline that spins off and usually reconnects with the main storyline.


a figure of language where a word or an object represents a larger idea

sympathetic character

a character the reader roots for or feels a kinship for


the structure and organization of a sentence


an idea or issue which recurs in a story and is, therefore, an essential part of the subject of the story

Third person narrator

the voice telling the story is not directly involved in the action of the story.


the attitude conveyed by an author towards their subject matter and/or towards their audience

unreliable narrator

a narrative voice that may be lying, exaggerating, or misunderstanding the events he or she is retelling.


imaginative prose writing characterized by invented subject matter


informative writing representing truthful claims about subject matter


an effect related to the way in which a writer withholds information from the reader thus keeping the resolution in doubt.

objective or journalistic point of view

writing that seeks to inform by making accurate factual claims based on careful and balanced research.


writing that uses factual claims and claims of value to argue for a particular position or point of view

claims of fact

assertions that can be verified by outside sources

claims of value

subjective assertions that assign importance or priority to certain ideas or concepts.


the quality of a gesture, an event or a word or phrase that allows it to be interpreted in more than one way


a type or category of literature like short story, novel, epic, essay, memoir or drama that determines basic rules governing the form and the purpose of that writing.

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