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The series of related events that make up a narrative, purposes are to convey meaning and to provide an enjoyable or moving reading experience.


A struggle or clash between opposing characters, forces, or emotions.

external conflict

A character struggles against some outside

internal conflict

A struggle between opposing needs, desires, or emotions within a single character.


Background information on characters and events necessary for understanding the story.


The time and place of events in a literary work.

To provide a time and place for the characters and events, • To aid in the understanding of characters and their actions, To create atmosphere, To facilitate plot development (to develop conflict)

four functions of setting

rising action

complications, Intensify the conflict(s) and create suspense.

technical climax

Turning point of the plot, where the protagonist changes or has an opportunity to change but does not. From this point, the outcome is determined.

falling action

Action that takes place after the climactic scene.


Final event of the plot


The problems or mysteries of the plot are unraveled.

dramatic climax

The point of greatest interest or intensity in the story


The use of clues to hint at what is going to happen later in the plot.

plotless short story

In some modern fiction, plot has a relatively minor function. These works may focus instead on characterization and point of view.


The mood or feeling in a work of literature, often affected by setting.


The feeling a work of literature creates in the reader.


Fictional personality created by an author


The process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character.


Telling, more direct, quicker, factual, characterization


Showing, less direct, more time-consuming. The reader has to exercise her own judgment, putting clues together to figure out what a character is like, characterization

By describing how a character looks and dresses, By letting the reader hear the character speak, By showing the character's actions, By revealing the character's private thoughts and feelings, By showing how other characters feel or behave toward the character

Methods of dramatic characterization


Central character the reader focuses on; the person whose conflict sets the plot in motion.


A character or force that blocks the protagonist


A character that has more dimensions to his/her personality; he/she is complex and multi-faceted, like a real person


A character who is not well-developed, but rather one-dimensional; he/she has limited personality traits


A character who grows, learns, or changes as a result of the story's action


A character that does not change much in the course of the story


A character who is used as a contrast to another character; the contrast emphasizes the differences between the two characters, bringing out the distinctive qualities in each.


The reasons that cause characters to act as they do


The teller of the story

point of view

The vantage point from which a writer tells a story

first person

The narrator is a character in the story; uses the pronoun "I"


The narrator describes the reader's actions, using the personal pronoun "you." This point of view is rare.

third-person objective

The narrator in the dramatic point of view reports events in a way that is analogous to a motion-picture camera, or to what some call "a fly on the wall." An impartial report.

third-person omniscient

The narrator is outside the story, a god-like observer who can tell the reader what all the characters are thinking and feeling, as well as what is happening anywhere in the story.

third-person limited

The narrator is outside the story, but tells the story from the vantage point of only ONE character; the narrator can enter the mind of this chosen character but cannot tell what any other characters are thinking except by observation


The central idea, message, or insight of a work of literature; most are implied rather than directly stated

Must be a complete declarative sentence, Must state a significant, general truth about life, people, human nature, or the world, Must clearly be brought out in the work

Guidelines for stating theme


The attitude a writer takes toward the reader, a subject, or a character; tone is conveyed through the writer's choice of words and details, nostalgic; factual; bitter; passionate.

writing style

Includes a writer's syntax (sentence structure) and diction (word choice)


A concrete thing, place, or event (more rarely, a person) that stands both for itself and for something abstract beyond itself


A contrast or discrepancy between expectation and reality; what is not expected


When the reader or audience knows something important that a character in a story or drama does not know


What actually happens is the opposite of what is expected or appropriate


When a speaker says one thing but means the opposite


A play on the multiple meanings of a word, or on two words that sound alike but have different meanings


A kind of rhythmic, compressed language that uses figures of speech and imagery designed to appeal to our emotions and imagination.


a story told in verse form; ex. an epic


a brief, personal poem that is especially musical and filled with emotion; sonnets, odes, and elegies are types


A fourteen-line lyric poem, usually written in iambic pentameter, that has one of several rhyme schemes (Shakespeare's has three quatrains followed by a couplet; the most common rhyme scheme for this is abab cdcd efef gg


a type of poem that is meant to be sung and is both lyric and narrative in nature


Two dissimilar things are compared using words such as "like," "as," "than," or "resembles"


Two dissimilar things are compared WITHOUT using words such as "like," "as," "than," or "resembles"

direct metaphor

Directly compares two things with a verb such as "is"

implied metaphor

Suggests a comparison WITHOUT using "is"

extended metaphor

A metaphor that is developed over several lines or a whole poem

dead metaphor

a metaphor that has become so overused that we no longer realize that is a figure of speech—we simply skip over the metaphorical connection it makes.

mixed metaphor

The inconsistent mixture of two or more metaphors; a common problem in bad writing, and they can often be unintentionally funny


The word for a part of something is used to mean the whole


Substituting one closely related idea for another.


Giving human or animate qualities to nonhuman or inanimate things


Addressing something nonhuman as if it were human


Something concrete used to represent something abstract.

literary allusion

A reference to a person, place, or thing from previous literature


Exaggeration for the sake of effect, for emphasis, not to be taken literally; overstatement.


Saying the opposite of what is true


Balancing or contrasting one thing against another for effect


An apparent contradiction which proves, upon closer examination, to be true


a two-word paradox, Ex: a guilty pleasure


The repetition of the initial consonant sound in two or more words in a line of verse


The repetition of consonant sounds that are NOT at the beginning of words in a line of verse, Come live with me and be my love.


The similarity or repetition of vowel sounds in two or more words with different consonant sounds


The use of words that imitate the sounds they define


Repeating a word or phrase within a poem

pleasing to the ear, emphasizes idea, gives poem structure

3 reasons to use repetition


The repetition of one or more phrases or lines at definite intervals in a poem, usually at the end of a stanza


A group of consecutive lines in a poem that form a single unit; a division of a poem that is often referred to as a "paragraph of poetry"


2 line stanza


3 line stanza


4 line stanza


5 line stanza


6 line stanza


7 line stanza


8 line stanza


The similarity or likeness of sound at the ends of two or more words

end rhyme

Occurs between words found at the ends of two or more lines in a poem

internal rhyme

Between words, occurs within a single one of poetry

perfect rhyme

(exact rhyme) involves sounds that are exactly the same

imperfect rhyme

(approximate or slant or off rhyme) involves words that sound similar, but are not exactly the same

eye rhyme

Depends on spelling rather than sound; words that look like they should rhyme, but do not

rhyme scheme

The pattern or sequence in which end rhyme occurs throughout a poem. The first end sound is represented with an "a," the second end sound is represented with a "b," and so on. When the first sound is repeated at the end of another line within the poem, it is also designated as "a."


The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in words in a line of poetry; may be regular or irregular


A regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry


A unit of meter, usually containing one stressed syllable and one or two or unstressed syllables; lines of poetry are classified according to the number of feet in a line


The process of marking lines of poetry to show the type of feet and the number of feet they contain

iambic foot

A two syllable foot with the stress on the second syllable; the most common foot of the English language, unstressed stressed

Trochaic foot

A two syllable foot with the stress on the first syllable

Spondaic foot

Two stressed syllables. Used rarely, for emphasis.

Pyrric foot

Two unstressed syllables; this type of foot is rare and is found in between other types of feet

Anapestic foot

Three syllables with the stress on the last syllable

Dactylic foot

Three syllables with the stress on the first syllable


1 foot per line


2 feet per line


3 feet per line


4 feet per line


5 feet per line


6 feet per line


7 feet per line


8 feet per liner

rhymed verse

Consists of a verse with end rhyme and regular meter

blank verses

Consists of unrhymed iambic pentameter

free verse

Consists of lines of poetry that do not have a regular rhythm and do not rhyme regularly


The literary, dictionary definition of a word.


All the meanings, associations, or emotions that a word suggests

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