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Short story terms


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Literary terms every student should know.

Literary terms every student should know.

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  • 1. Short Story Unit Literary Terms
  • 2. Plot The sequence of events that make up a story, usually centering around a main conflict
  • 3. The Five Stages of Plot
  • 4. Exposition  The first stage of plot!  In the Exposition, the scene is set: – this part of the story introduces the characters , tells the reader the setting , and provides all of the necessary background information
  • 5. Setting  The  setting of the literary work is the time and place of the action.  Time can include not only the historical period—past, present, or future—but also a specific year, season, or time of day. Place—though usually physical—may also involve the social, economic, or cultural environment of the story
  • 6. Rising Action  The second stage of plot!  This is where the action usually begins. In the Rising Action, the conflict is introduced (either between characters, or with an outside force). This conflict will build up pressure until the Climax
  • 7. Climax  The climax is the  Generally, this is the highest point of conflict in the story!! point after which everything is different. All of the pressure or events of the Rising Action have stacked up to this moment, when something must change.
  • 8. Falling Action  This stage begins the downward slope the conflict lessens, and the plot moves towards closure
  • 9. Resolution/Denouement  In the final stage of plot, the conflict concludes, and loose ends are tied up.
  • 10. Conflict A conflict is a struggle between opposing forces. There are two types of conflict: INTERNAL -Conflict that occurs inside the character -man Vs. self EXTERNAL –Conflict that occurs outside of the character -man Vs. man -man Vs. nature -man Vs. society -man Vs. fate
  • 11. Protagonist The protagonist is the main character in a literary work. He/she is NOT necessarily the “good guy”, just the main character
  • 12. Antagonist An antagonist is a character or force in conflict with the main character This is NOT necessarily the “bad guy”, just the person or thing that is working against the main character
  • 13. Narrator The person from whose perspective a story is told
  • 14. Point of View  The perspective or angle from which a story is being told  There are several types: – First-Person-Point-of-View: When the narrator telling the story is one of the characters, and tells the story as a personal account – Third-Person-Point-of-View: When the narrator is not one of the characters (has no name, and does not participate in any of the action of the plot)
  • 15. Point of View (continued)  There are also two types of Third-Person- Point-of-View: – Third-Limited -Point-of-View: When the Thirdnarrator sees the world through one character’s eyes and reveals only that character’s thoughts – Third-Omniscient -Point-of-View: When the Thirdnarrator sees into the minds of more than one character. Omniscient = all knowing
  • 16. Irony  The difference between appearance and reality or the expectation and result.  There are THREE kinds of Irony: -Verbal Irony: a word or phrase used to suggest the opposite of its actual meaning. “You look so good in that dress,” said her best friend. -Dramatic Irony: When there is a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the readers know is true. You know something the character doesn’t know. (You know the murderer is hiding in the closet but the character doesn’t know.)
  • 17. Irony (continued) -Situational Irony: When an event directly contradicts expectations of the reader or of the characters
  • 18. Foreshadowing  Clues in a literary work that suggest events that have yet to occur This literary device helps to create suspense, keeping readers wondering about what will happen next.
  • 19. Theme  The central message or insight into life revealed through a literary work – This is the deeper meaning, the main lesson/message/moral that the author hopes the reader will understand at the end of the story
  • 20. Denotation Vs. Connotation  Denotation: The dictionary meaning of a word, independent of other associations that the word may have  Connotation: Suggested meaning. An emotional association with a word in addition to the word’s actual, explicit meaning. Ex., house, woman, Hollywood, joking
  • 21. Mood  The feeling created in the reader by a literary work Tone  The attitude toward the subject that an author conveys in a piece of writing
  • 22. Simile  A comparison between two unlike things using “like” or “as”.  Similes are used to make descriptions of objects or people more powerful. Example: Without a simile: “It was dark outside.” With a simile: “The night was as dark as thick, black velvet.”
  • 23. Metaphor  A comparison between two unlike things, without using the words “like” or “as”.  Instead, one thing is spoken of as though it is something else completely. Example (from the Langston Hughes poem “Dreams”): “…if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly”
  • 24. Personification  A type of figurative language, where a non- human object is given human characteristics Examples: -The desk coughed and grunted as I shoved it across the old wooden floor. -The tea kettle whistled once the water was boiling.
  • 25. Imagery  The descriptive or figurative language used in literature to create word pictures for the reader.  These word pictures/images, are created by details of sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, or movement.
  • 26. Symbol  Something that has a literal meaning, but also stands for or represents an abstract idea. Example: The American Flag– on a literal level, it is just a flag, a piece of cloth. However, it also stands for this particular county, for freedom, etc.
  • 27. Allusion  When one literary work references a well- known person, place, event, work of art, or another literary work to make a point. Example: In Taylor Swift’s song “Love Story”, she alludes to the play “Romeo and Juliet”.
  • 28. Dialogue   A dialogue is a conversation between characters. It is often used to reveal things about a character’s thoughts, motivations, and personality to the reader, and to advance the action of the plot. Example: After walking into the kitchen, Susie cried, “Mom, how could you eat the last cupcake?!” Mom replied, “I was hungry, and you weren’t here. It was delicious, my dear!”
  • 29. Diction  Word choice, including vocabulary used, word appropriateness, and vividness of language
  • 30. Characterization  The way a writer reveals a character’s personality and traits.  There are two methods: – Direct Characterization: The author directly states a character’s personality and/or physical traits – Indirect Characterization: Uses a character’s thoughts, actions, and feelings, to suggest the character’s traits.
  • 31. Dynamic Character  A character that develops and changes through the course of a story Example: Ebenezer Scrooge at the beginning of “A Christmas Carol”, he is a mean, lonely man that is only interested in money. By the end of the story, he is generous, and interested in the “true spirit of Christmas.”
  • 32. Static Character  A character that does not change or develop through the course of the story Example: Wile E. Coyote
  • 33. Round Character  A character that exhibits many traits, faults as well as virtues Flat Character  A character who seems to have only a single personality trait
  • 34. Stereotype  A set of inaccurate, simplistic generalizations about a group that allows others to categorize them and treat them accordingly.
  • 35. Topic Sentence  A sentence that expresses the main idea or point of the paragraph, usually appearing at the beginning.
  • 36. Supporting Details  Statements that support the main idea/topic sentence with explanations, descriptions, definitions, or other information.
  • 37. Purpose  The author’s reason for writing a specific piece (Examples: To entertain, to inform, or to persuade the reader)
  • 38. Thesis Statement  The sentence or two that contains the focus of the essay and tells your reader what your essay will be about.  The thesis statement unifies the essay parts.
  • 39. Generalization  A broad principle that is supported by evidence or particulars Evidence  Particulars, or details, that lead to generalizations Evidence Evidence EvidEncE Evidence GENERALIZATIO N (BIG