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Terms for point of view, characters, setting, tone, style, irony, theme, and symbols.


name for stories that are at least partially shaped, made up, or imagined

dramatic situation

when a person is involved in some conflict


the opening portion that sets the scene, introduces the main characters and background


a new conflict


the principle person who strives


pleasurable anxiety we feel that heightens our attention to the story


indication of events to come


a moment of high tension


moment of greatest tension at which the outcome is decided

resolution (denouement)

the outcome or conclusion


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


a vivid or dramatic moment described in enough detail to create the illusion that the reader is practically there


some moment of insight, discovery, or revelation

story of initiation

story that tells of a character initiated into experience or maturity



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


presumably an imagined person who inhabits a story


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


a reference to some famous person, place, or thing in other fiction or actuality


protagonist who lacks in one or more of the usual attributes of a traditional here


a story's time and place

regional writer

a writer who usually sets stories in one geographic area


a fiction of grim realism


whatever leads us to infer an author's attitude


individual traits or characteristics of a piece of writing


choice of words


writers of realistic unemotional fiction

verbal irony

the speaker's meaning is far from usual meaning


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


whatever general idea or insight the story reveals


a thing that suggests more than its literal meaning


story in which people, places, and things form a system of clearly labeled equivalents

symbolic act

a gesture with larger significance than the usual

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