72 terms

Literary Terms

Words that pertain to literary elements used by authors in their writing.
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Terms in this set (...)

Conflict
a struggle between opposing forces. Ex. man vs. man; man vs. self; man vs. nature; etc.
External Conflict
a struggle between a character and an outside force
Internal Conflict
a struggle that takes within the character's own mind
Plot
the series of events in a story; the events center on a conflict faced by the main character(s)
Exposition
introduces the characters, setting, and basic situation of a story. May also reveal a conflict or set the stage for the conflict .
Inciting Incident
the event that introduces the central conflict of a story; everything was fine until this event happens
Rising Action
Events leading up to the climax; introduces obstacles that make the conflict more complicated.
Climax
turning point in story; most exciting part of the story; the moment of greatest suspense or action
Falling Action
the events after the climax; shows how the main character resolves the conflict.
Resolution
The ending of the story that states the final outcome of the conflict and ties up loose ends.
Suspense
a sense of excitement, tension, dread, or fear about what will happen next.
Narrator
character who tells the story; can be the author or a fictional character
Setting
time and place (when and where) story takes place
Character
a person or animal in a story, play, or other literary work
Figures of Speech
imaginative way of using words to communicate meaning beyond the actual meanings
Figurative Language
language that communicates meanings beyond the literal meanings of words; words are used to symbolize ideas and concepts they would not otherwise be associated with
Simile
a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things using the word "like" or "as"
Metaphor
a comparison things that are basically different but have some qualities in common. Unlike a simile, though, metaphors do not use the word "like" or "as"
Personification
an animal, object, or idea being given human qualities
Irony
a contrast between what a reader or character expects and what actually exists or happens
Author's Perspective
the ideas, values, feelings, and beliefs that influences the way the writer looks at a topic
Author's Purpose
the reason a writer is writing a particular piece: to inform or explain; to persuade; to entertain
Connotation
implied meaning - not the dictionary definition. For example: that is so cool...
Denotation
dictionary definition
Dialogue
a written conversation between two or more characters
Flashback
an interruption of the action to present events that took place at an earlier time
Foreshadowing
when a writer gives clues or hints about future events in the story
Hyperbole
a figure of speech using extreme exaggeration for effect; it is often used for emphasis or humor. Example: "I've got a million things to do!"
Idiom
an expression that has a meaning different from the meaning of its individual words. Example: you're driving me nuts...does not mean you are LITERALLY driving a person in a car or that you are turning a person into nuts
Imagery
descriptive words and phrases that create sensory experiences or appeal to one of the five senses (hear, see, smell, touch, taste) for readers
Mood
the feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader
Tone
the writer's attitude toward his or her subject
Moral
a lesson that a story teaches; can be stated directly or implied
Onomatopoeia
the use of words whose sounds echo their meaning. For example: buzz, pop, snap
Sensory Details
words and phrases that appeal to the reader's senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste
Stereotype
characters who are defined by a single trait; such characters do not usually demonstrate the complexities of real people
Symbol
a person, a place, an object, or an activity that stands for something beyond itself. For example, a flag is a colored piece of cloth that stands for a country
Theme
The underlying message about life or human nature that a writer wants the reader to understand.
Point of view
The perspective the story is told from. The method of narration used in a short story or novel, such as first-person, third-person, or omniscient.
1st Person Point of View
The point of view where the narrator is a character in the story; uses the first person pronouns "I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours" to tell the story.
3rd Person Limited Point of View
The point of view where the narrator is an outside observer and NOT a character in the story. However, the narrator focuses on the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of one character. Uses pronouns "he," "she," or "it."
3rd Person Omniscient Point of View
The point of view where the narrator is "all knowing" and is an outside observer who knows the thoughts and feelings of every character in the story. Uses pronouns "he," "she," or "it."
Exaggeration
an extreme overstatement of an idea; it is often used for purposes of emphasis or humor
Dynamic Character
A character who grows, learns, or changes as a result of the story's action.
Static Character
A character that does not change much from the beginning of the story to the end.
Alliteration
the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of a group of words. Examples: dead dear; We swam at sunset in the sea.
Allusion
a figure of speech that makes a reference to people, places, events or literary works directly or by implying them. Example: "He's a real Romeo with the ladies" is an allusion to Romeo & Juliet. It is up to the reader to know and understand the reference.
Genre
A type or style of literature. Literature has four main genres: poetry, drama, fiction, and non-fiction. There are also more specific genres such as science fiction, romance, or biography.
Motif
An element that RECURS significantly throughout a narrative. It can be an image, idea, theme situation, or action.
Oxymoron
A figure of speech where the words seem to contradict each other. Example: the living dead
Paradox
A statement that at first appears to be self-contradictory, but actually has a deeper truth in it. Example: "Love Hurts" or "I always lie."
Allegory
A narrative where the characters and events make literal sense, but there is also a larger message being communicated. The story is told on more than one level. Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell
cliche
a word or phrase that is so overused that it has lost it's meaning or interest. Example: "they lived happily ever after"
Protagonist
The main character in a story, usually the "good guy."
Antagonist
The character or force who opposes or struggles against the protagonist; often the villain or "bad guy."
Euphemism
a polite way of saying something, like "passed away" instead of "died"
Epic
a long, narrative poem that tells the story of a hero. Example: The Odyssey
Sonnet
a type of poetry that is 14 lines long and has a specific rhyme scheme
Flat character
A character who is not well developed; the reader does not know much about him/her.
Free verse
A type of poetry that does not have a fixed meter or rhyme scheme
Fable
A very short story that often uses animals to teach a moral or lesson. Example: "The Tortoise and the Hare"
Flash forward
a sudden jump forward in time in a story; a scene that interrupts the narrative to show you the future
Juxtaposition
a literary technique in which two or more contrasting ideas, places, characters and their actions are placed side by side in a narrative or a poem for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts. Example: darkness and light
Myth
a legendary or a traditional story that uses supernatural characters and events, especially gods or goddesses, to describe or explain something. Example: Greek myths and characters such as Zeus
Meter
the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in line a poem. Example: imabic pentameter has 10 syllables
Fiction
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Non-fiction
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Poetry
A type of literature in which words are chosen and arranged in a precise way to create certain sounds and meanings
Drama
Narrative
a story or series of events told in a logical order
Stock Character
A stereotypical character such as a dumb jock, a nerdy scientist, etc.
Round Character
A character who is well developed so that the reader can understand his/her personality and motivation.

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