Elements of Literature Vocabulary

Plot
The sequence of events that make up a story; The development of the story line from start to finish.

Exposition
Background information given to understand the story better; when characters are introduced, and the setting is established. Usually found at the beginning of a story or play. Serves to introduce the main characters, describe the setting, and sometimes establish the conflict.

Conflict
The struggle in the story

External Conflict
A struggle between two characters or things in the story or some outside force.

Internal Conflict
A struggle within one character. A struggle within one character. It (the struggle) exists inside that character. Example: What do I do? To eat chocolate, or not to eat chocolate, that is the question

Climax
A turning point; the highest point of the story; the purpose for reading the story. Example: When Edward and his family killed the bad vampire and Bella was home safe.

Resolution
When loose ends are tied up and the story is brought to a close. When characters return to as normal a life as possible

Setting
The time and place where the story takes place

Character
A person, an animal, or an imaginary creature that takes part in the action of a literary work

Protagonist
The main character who is involved in the story’s conflict

Antagonist
A force working against the protagonist; may be another character, society, force of nature, or a even a force within the character

Point of View
The angle from which the story is told.

1st person
When the stories narrator is a character in the story and uses words such as I, me, and we outside of quotes.

3rd person
When the narrator is telling the story about one character that is not him/herself and is aware of other characters’ actions and possibly their thoughts

3rd person Omniscient
When the narrator knows what is happening to every character, all knowing narrator.

Theme
The main idea of the story; A message about life or human nature that is communicated by a literary work

Genre
A type or category of literature. There are 4 main categories; fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama

Mood
The atmosphere of the story; The feeling that a literary work conveys to readers

Symbol
A person, place, object, or action that stands for something beyond itself. When something stands for something else

Irony
A contrast between what is expected and what actually exists or happens. When the opposite of what is expected happens in a piece of literary work. Sarcastic humor

Style
A manner of writing; involves how something is said rather than what is said

Flashback
An interuption of the action to present events that took place at an earlier time. When a portion of the story goes back in time

Foreshadowing
A hint of something that will happen later in the story. Occurs when a writer provides hints that suggest the future events in a story.

Imagery
When the author forms an image in your mind; Consists of words and phrases that appeal to the reader’s five senses.

Satire
A literary work that ridicules or scorns. Makes fun of

Figurative Language
Expressions that are not usually true, used to create fresh and original descriptions

Literal Language
Describes things in simple terms

Metaphor
A comparison of 2 things NOT using “like” or “as”. Example: “Life is like a box of chocolates.”

Simile
A comparison of 2 things using “like” or “as”. Example: “The catcher was as clumsy as a walrus.”

Hyperbole
An exaggeration, an overstating of an idea. Example: “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.” or “I will love you until the end of time.”

Personification
When something is given qualities it normally does not have; The giving of human qualities to an animal, object or idea; Nonhuman things described as though they were human. Example: “Mother Nature”.

Tone
Expresses the writer’s attitude toward his or her subject

Sensory Language
Language meant to evoke the reader’s senses

Inference / Subtext
A logical guess or conclusion based on evidence

Motivation
The reason why people act, feel, or think in certain ways

Voice
His or her distinctive style or manner of exprression

Alliteration
When two or more words that begin with the same letter or sound are next to each other

Idiom
An expression whose meaning is completely different from what its words seem to say; It has a figurative meaning. Only those who are familiar with this figure of speech will understand it. “To let the cat out of the bag = To reveal a secret.”

Onomatopoeia
When the sound of an action is spelled like it sounds. Example: hiss, bang, oink, purr, etc.

Repetition
When words are repeated in sequence

Oxymoron
When two words are next to each other that have opposite meanings, but they create a new meaning

Flat character
Usually only shows one side of his/her personality, and does not show growth or maturity in the story

Round character
Usually shows many sides of personality and shows growth or maturity in the story

Major character
A main character, story would change if character were removed

Minor character
A less important character and the story would not change or would only change slightly if this character were removed

Direct characterization
The method of character development in which the author simply tells what the character is like

Indirect characterization
When a character is described through actions and dialogue; When the writer reveals information about a character and his personality through that character’s thoughts, words, and actions, along with how other characters respond to that character, including what they think and say about him.

Dialogue
Words spoken by characters

man vs. man
A struggle between two characters, external

man vs. himself
A internal struggle within one character, internal

man vs. nature
A struggle between a character and a natural force, external

man vs. society
A struggle between a character and a force of society, external

Rising Action
Events leading to the climax; conflict is present, suspense is present, longest portion of the story. The suspence leading up to the climax. When you want to know whats going to happen

Falling Action
After the climax is explained, characters express how they feel about the climax

Theme
The “message” of the story

Indirect Theme
When only after reading the entire story is it possible to figure out the theme

Direct Theme
When the theme is stated directly in the story, an actual sentence or portion of the story is the theme

Writer’s License
This gives the author the ability to break grammar rules to enhance the story

Dramatic Irony
When an audience perceives something that a character in the literature or play does not know. Example: During Romeo and Juliet when Romeo finds Juliet drugged and asleep and he thinks she is dead

Verbal Irony
When the author says one thing and means something else

3 kinds of irony
Verbal Irony, Dramatic Irony, Irony of Situation

Irony of Situation
A discrepancy between the expected ending (result) and the actual ending (result)

Narrative Writing
Tells a story, fiction or nonfiction, of something that happened. EXAMPLE: biography, memior, etc.

Persuasive / Argumentative Writing
A way to try and convince a reader to agree with an issue and/or change their view on a problem, or carry out an action. EXAMPLE: editorial, petition, etc.

Imaginative Writing
It’s purpose is to entertain the reader by using an interesting and artistic form. EXAMPLE: poetry, short story

Informative Writing
Informs the reader. EXAMPLE: news articles, research papers, etc.

Personal / Expressive Writing
Reflects on a personal experience. EXAMPLE: journal entry

Aim
The purpose or objective of the literature. Some pieces of literature may have more than one. The book “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is to tell a story and to entertain the reader

Purpose
The reason a writer writes something. EXAMPLE: to sell a car, to thank someone, to entertain, etc.

Audience
These are the people who read what a writer writes. A writer should determine who they are writing for before beginning the writing process. EXAMPLE: adults, women, teens, early readers, etc.

Form
The type of writing a writer writes. EXAMPLE: magazine, novel, poem, essay, etc.

Topic
What the writing is about.