Drama and Fiction Terms

Act
a division or unit in a drama or play

Antagonist
A character who opposes the protagonist in a story

Catastrophe
A disaster

Catharsis
A relief (purging) of tension the audience experiences, usually after the climax of the story.

Character
A person or an animal in a story, a play, or another literary work.

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

Flat Character
A character who is not very well developed; has few identifiable characteristics

Round Character
A character who demonstrates some complexity and who develops or changes in the course of a work

Static Character
A character that does not change from the beginning of the story to the end

Climax
That point in a plot that creates the greatest intensity, suspense, or interest; usually the point at which the conflict is resolved

Comedy
A dramatic work that is light and often humorous or satirical in tone and that usually contains a happy resolution of the thematic conflict.

comic relief
An amusing scene, incident, or speech introduced into serious or tragic elements, as in a play, in order to provide temporary relief from tension, or to intensify the dramatic action.

conflict
A struggle between two opposing forces.

crisis
A turning point in the action of a story that has a powerful effect on the protagonist. Opposing forces come together decisively to lead to the climax of the plot.

denouement
An outcome or solution; the unraveling of a plot. The final outcome of the main dramatic complication in a literary work.

exposition
Introduces the characters, settings, and opening situations of a story

falling action
Events that follow the climax in which tension decreases.

hero
A mythological or legendary fuigure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability. The leading male character is, usually larger than life, sometimes godlike.

Epic hero
Is a human being with characteristics a society admires and often wishes to emulate (imitate). The hero is attractive and unusually strong and able.

Monologue
A long speech in a play or story, delivered by a single person (see soliloquy).

Prologue
A section of any introductory material before the first chapter or the main material of a prose work, or any such material before the first stanza of a poetic work.

Protagonist
Main character in fiction or drama

rising action
A set of conflicts and crises that constitute the part of a play’s or story’s plot leading up to the climax.

scene
A division of an act into smaller parts

soliloquy
A dramatic speech, revealing inner thoughts and feelings, spoken aloud by one character while alone on the stage.

Tragedy
A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances.

Tragic flaw
the character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall

Villain
(n.) an evil or wicked person or character, especially in a story or play

Atmosphere/Mood
The overall mood or feeling created in a work of literature. The writer uses precise word choices and descriptive details.

Detail/ Sensory detail
The facts revealed by the author or speaker that support the attitude or tone of a piece of poetry or prose

Dialogue
A conversation between two or more characters

Colloquial
Characteristic of ordinary conversation rather than formal speech or writing

Connotation
An implied meaning of a word. Opposite of denotation.

Denotation
Dictionary definition of a word

Dialect
A variety of speech characterized by its own particular grammar or pronunciation, often associated with a particular geographical region

Jargon
Language used by a special group; technical terminology; gibberish

Slang
Informal language

emphasis
Emphasizing one particular part to make it stand out

epigram
A brief witty poem, often satirical.

aphorism
A concise and often witty statement of wisdom or opinion.

proverb
A popular saying that is meant to express something wise or true

irony
A literary device that uses contradictory statements or situations to reveal a reality different from what appears to be true.

dramatic irony
Irony that is inherent in speeches or a situation of a drama and is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play.

situational irony
An outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expected

sarcasm
From the Greek meaning “to tear flesh,” sarcasm involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something. It may use irony as a device, but not all ironic statements are sarcastic (that is, intended to ridicule). When well done, sarcasm can be witty and insightful; when poorly done, it is simply cruel.

satire
A literary work that criticizes human misconduct and ridicules vices, stupidities, and follies.

sentence variety
Using a variety of sentence patterns to create a desired effec

tone
A writer’s attitude toward his or her subject matter revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization on the sentence and global levels.

voice
The dominating ethos or tone of a literary work. The voice existing in a literary is not always identifiable with the actual views of the author.