44 terms

Literary Terms

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alliteration
The repetition of initial consonant sounds in words.
allusion
A reference to another literary, artistic, or musical work that the reader is likely to be familiar with.
antagonist
The principal character in opposition to the protagonist or hero.
autobiography
An account of a person's life written by that person.
biography
An account of a person's life written by another person.
characterization
The process by which an author brings an imaginary person or creature to life by using descriptions of physical appearance, gestures, thoughts and feelings, speech and behavior, and interactions with other characters.
connotation
The surrounding emotional feelings associated with a word.
denotation
The dictionary definition of a word.
diction
Word choice intended to convey a certain effect.
fable
A short narrative that makes a cautionary point (moral) and often employs animals as characters that speak and act like humans.
fiction
A story invented by imagination; not a true story.
figurative language
Language that is expanded beyond its usual literal meaning; for example, simile, metaphor, and personification (most common).
flashback
A part of the plot that moves back in time and then returns to the present.
foreshadowing
Clues that hint at what is going to happen later in the story.
genre
A kind of writing based on its style, form, and content.
hyperbole
A figure of speech in which an exaggeration or the obvious stretching of the truth is used to emphasize strong feeling or to create a humorous effect.
imagery
A set of mental pictures; language that appeals to the five senses.
irony
Incongruity between what actually happens and what might be expected to happen.
metaphor
A direct comparison of unlike things without using like or as.
moral
The lesson or principle contained in or taught by a fable, story, or event.
myth
A traditional, typically ancient, story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves to explain aspects of the natural world, customs, or ideals of society.
non-fiction
True story.
onomatopoeia
The use of words that imitate the sounds they describe.
oxymoron
A rhetorical figure in which contradictory terms are combined.
personification
Giving human characteristics to a non-human entity.
plot
Events in the story; what happened in the story.
point of view
The vantage point from which a story is told.
protagonist
The main character or hero in a piece of work.
pun
A play on words that are identical or similar in sound but have sharply diverse meanings.
satire
A literary device used to ridicule or make fun of human vices or weaknesses.
setting
The time and place in which a literary work takes place.
simile
The comparison of two unlike things using like or as.
exposition
Background information that establishes the setting and describes the situation of the story; it is intended to explain something that might otherwise be difficult to understand.
rising action
Series of conflicts or struggles that build up a story moving toward a climax.
climax
The point of highest tension within a story; the turning point in a story.
falling action
The events that occur after the climax of the story.
resolution
The portion of the story in which the conflict is resolved.
conflict
The problem or struggle between opposing forces in a story that triggers the action; there are five basic types of conflict: person against person, person against society, person against nature, person against self, and person against fate.
theme
The author's statement in a literary work.
symbol
A person, place, thing, or event used to stand for something abstract such as an idea or emotion.
syntax
The order of words in a sentence.
tone
Refers to the author's attitude toward the subject, characters, or reader.
dialect
A form of language spoken by people of a certain region or group.
dialogue
A conversation between two or more characters.