Literary Elements of Fiction

plot
The sequence of events in a story

setting
The time and place in which a story occurs

protagonist
Main character in a story

antagonist
A character or force in conflict with the main character

climax
A decisive moment that is of maximum intensity or is a major turning point in a plot

rising action
The series of conflicts or struggles that build a story toward a climax

resolution
The conclusion of a story where the loose ends are tied up

conflict
A struggle between opposing characters or opposing forces in a story

foreshadowing
An author’s use of hints or clues to suggest events that will occur later in the story

complication
A circumstance that complicates something in a story

falling action
The events after the climax that ease the tension and lead to the resolution

flat characters
Characters that are simple and one-dimensional

round characters
Complex characters with many qualities and traits

dynamic characters
Characters that change and grow throughout the course of a story

static characters
Characters who remain the same throughout the story

diction
A writer’s choice of words

first person narration
The narrator is a character who refers to himself/herself as “I”

point of view
The perspective from which a story is told

narrative
A piece of writing that tells a story

tone
The attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience

theme
A central idea which a literary text explores

imagery
Descriptive or figurative language that appeals to the senses

flashback
An interruption in the chronological order of a narrative to describe an event that happened earlier

dialogue
Conversation between characters

exposition
The introductory material in a story which gives the setting, creates the tone, presents the characters and other facts necessary to understanding the story

inciting incident
An incident or action that sets the plot in motion

subplot
A second story within the main plot of a story

mood
The feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader

third person omniscient narration
An all-knowing narrator tells the story using the third person

third person limited narration
Narration using the third person, but from only one character’s point of view

second person narration
Narration using the second person, “you”, to describe the character

in medias res
A narrative that starts in the middle of the action

dramatic irony
When the audience knows something the characters do not

verbal irony
When person says or writes one thing and means another

direct characterization
The author directly describes character

indirect characterization
The author indirectly reveals the character through actions and interactions

style
The author’s choices regarding language, sentence structure, voice, and tone in order to communicate with the reader

character foil
A character who contrasts with another character in order to highlight particular qualities of the person

symbolism
A device in literature where an object represents an idea

stream of consciousness
A style of writing that portrays the inner (often chaotic) workings of a character’s mind