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Short Story Terminology


the time and place (approximate) of the story (when/where)


the people involved in the story


the incidents or events that occur in the story (what happened)


the hero or main character


the person opposed to the hero; villain


a struggle between two forces or people (problem)

Falling Action

the events/incidents from the climax to the resolution


the turning point of the story


the conclusion or ending


the statement an author makes (or implies) about life through the plot and/or character (Author's Message)


the feeling created in the reader by a literary work

Introduction (Exposition)

the beginning of a story--you meet characters, learn the setting, and the conflict is set up.

Rising Action

the events in the story which lead to the climax--suspense about the conflict is built

Internal Conflict

occurs within a character's own mind (Man vs. Self)

External Conflict

involves a struggle with another character, nature, or society (Man vs. Man, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Nature/Disease)


the way a writer reveals the personality of a character.

Direct Characterization

when an author directly states information about a character.

Indirect Characterization

when an author provides clues as to what type of character one is.

Point of View

the vantage point, or eyes, from which a story is told.

First Person Point of View

the narrator is a character in the story and tells the story through his or her eyes.

Third Person (Limited) Point of View

the narrator reports the action from the viewpoint of ONE of the characters. He/she knows only what this ONE character is thinking and feeling, but is not a character in the story.

Omniscient Point of View

the narrator is all knowing and views the story events through the eyes of MORE THAN ONE character--the omniscient narrator knows everything that ALL of the characters think and feel.


the use of clues or hints suggesting the events that will occur later in the story.

Dramatic Irony

when the reader has knowledge that the characters in a story do not.
(EX: Jaws)

Situational Irony

when the result of an action is contrary to what is expected (the opposite of what you would expect)
(EX: The Police Station is robbed)

Verbal Irony

when a character says one thing but means another (sarcasm)

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