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the series of related events that make up a story or drama


The beginning part of the plot that gives information about the characters and their problems of conflicts.

rising action

The actions which lead up to the climax; the problems and conflicts.


Moment of great emotional intensity or suspense in a plot.

falling action

Follows the climax and leads to the resolution.


The end of the story:also called denouement.


The time and place of a story or play.


The story's atmosphere or feeling that it evokes.


Person in a story,poem or play.


The central idea of message of a work of literature.


the main character in fiction or drama, sometimes called the hero


the character or force who opposes the main character, sometimes called the villain

round character

has many different character traits which sometimes
contradict each other

flat character

has only one or two character traits and can be
described in a few words


fears, conflicts, or needs that drive a character's actions

dynamic character

character who changes as a result of the story's

static character

character who does not change much in the course of
the story


struggle or clash between opposing characters or opposing forces

external conflict

when a character struggles against an outside force

internal conflict

struggle within a character between opposing needs or emotions


the process of revealing the personality of a character in a story

indirect characterization

when the readers have to use their own judgment to decide what a character is like, based on the evidence the writer gives us

direct characterization

when the author plainly tells what a character is like

point of view

vantage point from which a writer tells a story

first person point of view

one of the characters is telling the story, using the pronoun "I"

second person point of view

the reader is the main character of the story, using the pronoun "you"

third person limited point of view

the narrator, who plays no part in the story, zooms in on the thoughts and feelings of just one character

third person omniscient point of view

the narrator knows everything there is to know about the characters and their problems


the use of clues to hint at events that will occur later in a plot


the person or voice telling the story


a story that is written to be acted for an audience; also called a play


a major division of a drama


a minor division of an act

stage directions

instructions in a play intended to give the actors information about how to perform their part, move on the stage, or use props or scenery


words that are spoken by a character in a play to the audience or to another character but that are not supposed to be heard by the others onstage


long speech in which a character who is onstage alone expressed his or her thoughts aloud


a long speech by one character while other characters are onstage

blank verse

poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter, used extensively by Shakespeare

iambic pentameter

line of poetry which contains five patterns of unstressed/stressed syllables


the conversation between characters in a story or play


play that depicts serious and important events in which the main character comes to an unhappy end


a story which contains both humorous and serious events, but which ends happily

comic relief

funny scene or event that breaks up a serious play or narrative


character who is used as a contrast to another character


contrast between expectation and reality

situational irony

when a story ends different than is expected

verbal irony

when a character says the opposite of what is meant

dramatic irony

when the reader has knowledge that some characters in the story do not have


—play on the multiple meanings of words that sound alike but have different meanings


person, place, thing, or event that stands for itself and for something beyond itself as well.


a long, narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historic hero who embodies the values of the society

epic simile

an extended comparison using "like" or "as" relating heroic events to simple and easily understandable everyday events the audience would recognize immediately


scene in a story that interrupts the present action of the plot to tell what happened at an earlier time


the main character or protagonist of the story, usually the "good" character, but who may also have character flaws

didactic literature

stories meant to teach a lesson or impart moral beliefs


traditional stories, rooted in a particular culture, that usually explain a belief, a ritual, or a mysterious natural phenomenon

oral tradition

the retelling of a story from person to person, from one generation to the next


a direct comparison of two unlike things


a comparison of two unlike things using "like" or "as"


the use of a word whose sound imitates or suggests its meaning


figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion; also called overstatement


a figure of speech which combines two seemingly contradictory words, such as "pretty ugly," "jumbo shrimp," "alone together," and "same difference"


repetition of the same consonant sounds at the beginnings of words


repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant


kind of metaphor in which a nonhuman thing is described with human characteristics


a division of a poem, sometimes labeled with numbers and organized into stanzas


group of consecutive lines in a poem that form a single unit


the "voice" of the poem; not always the author's voice


reference to a statement, person, place, or event from literature, history, religion, mythology, politics, sports, science, or pop culture


a long, narrative poem set to music


two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme

lyric poetry

poetry which expresses a person's feelings or thoughts


Japanese verse form consisting of three lines and seventeen syllables (5-7-5)

narrative poetry

poetry that tells a story


repetition of accented vowel sounds and endings of words, makes the words sound the same

rhyme scheme

pattern of end sounds in the words in the ends of lines of poems, for example "abab"


musical quality in poetry produced by repetition; also called "beat"

figurative language

words used for descriptive effect, includes metaphors, similes, oxymorons, and hyperboles

free verse

poetry that does not have meter or rhyme


anguage that appeals to the senses


pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry, also called "beat"


a unit of measurement in meter, containing certain numbers of stressed or unstressed syllables


repetition of words, phrases, or sentences that have the same grammatical structure


use, more than once, of a literary convention


comparison made between two things to show how they are alike, usually in the form of "_______:__________ :: __________:__________"
Example pencil : paper :: paintbrush : canvas


very brief story told to make a point


an account of an author's own life


an account of a person's life written or told by someone else


meanings, associations, or emotions that have come to be attached to some words in addition to their literal dictionary definitions


the definition of a word as found in a dictionary

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