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48 terms

Literary Terms

Terms for point of view, characters, setting, tone, style, irony, theme, and symbols.
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fiction
name for stories that are at least partially shaped, made up, or imagined
dramatic situation
when a person is involved in some conflict
exposition
the opening portion that sets the scene, introduces the main characters and background
complication
a new conflict
protagonist
the principle person who strives
suspense
pleasurable anxiety we feel that heightens our attention to the story
foreshadowing
indication of events to come
crisis
a moment of high tension
climax
moment of greatest tension at which the outcome is decided
resolution (denouement)
the outcome or conclusion
plot
artistic arrangement of events in a story
in media res
in the midst of things
flashback (retrospect)
a scene relived in a character's memory
scene
a vivid or dramatic moment described in enough detail to create the illusion that the reader is practically there
epiphany
some moment of insight, discovery, or revelation
story of initiation
story that tells of a character initiated into experience or maturity
narrator
speaker
omniscient narrator
all-knowing speaker
editorial omniscience
adds occasional comment or opinion
impartial omniscience
presents the thoughts and actions of the character but does not judge or comment on them
limited (selective) omniscience
see events through the eyes of a single character
total omniscience
has a knowledge of the minds of all the characters
objective point of view
does not enter the mind of any character but describes events from the outside
innocent (naïve) point of view
fails to understand all the implications of the story
unreliable narrator
narrator is deceptive, deluded, or deranged
stream of consciousness
describes the procession of thoughts passing through the mind
interior monologue
an extended presentation of a character's thoughts
character
presumably an imagined person who inhabits a story
motivation
sufficient reason to behave as one does
flat (static) character
stays the same, has only one or a few distinguishing marks
round (dynamic) character
change some time in the story and have more facets
allusion
a reference to some famous person, place, or thing in other fiction or actuality
antihero
protagonist who lacks in one or more of the usual attributes of a traditional here
setting
a story's time and place
regional writer
a writer who usually sets stories in one geographic area
naturalism
a fiction of grim realism
tone
whatever leads us to infer an author's attitude
style
individual traits or characteristics of a piece of writing
diction
choice of words
minimalist
writers of realistic unemotional fiction
verbal irony
the speaker's meaning is far from usual meaning
sarcasm
sour mocking statement
dramatic irony
the speakers doesn't realize irony of situation (reader does)
irony of fate (cosmic irony)
suggests that some malicious fate or other force is purposely frustrating human efforts
theme
whatever general idea or insight the story reveals
symbol
a thing that suggests more than its literal meaning
allegory
story in which people, places, and things form a system of clearly labeled equivalents
symbolic act
a gesture with larger significance than the usual