Literary Devices Every story is created by the use of many different techniques, whether the story is a movie, a novel, or a short story…Stories all have these essential components to make them exciting and successful.
PLOT In fiction, the story of a play, novel, romance, or poem, comprising a complication of incidents which are gradually unfolded, sometimes by unexpected means. IN OTHER WORDS!The way a story unfolds itself, composed of any sequence of events and twists and turns. The storyline, or how things happen in any story. Plot is essential for an interesting or exciting story.
STEP 1: EXPOSITION The basic situation in which setting, characters, and conflict are introduced. If I asked you “Hey! What’s that story about, what you say would be the exposition.” If I said, “What’s Finding Nemoabout?” You would say “It’s about Marlin, a clown fish, who is looking for his son Nemo who is disabled, and who was captured by humans after leaving his father. Their relationship is strained because since Nemo’s mother’s death, Marlin has been over-protective of Nemo. And the movie is about Marlin realizing this fact and journeying through the deep, sometimes scary, ocean.” THIS is an exposition, see how I didn’t give away too much information.
Step 2: RISING ACTION Conflict is developed and suspense builds!! Think of Plot like a roller coaster….the rising action is the part where you are slowly creeping up the rails, getting scared, excited, or nervous, but nothing BIG has happened YET. Think of the movie Titanic. The Rising Action would be all of the scenes, and events on the boat BEFORE anyone sees the glacier or knows that the boat is in danger or sinking.
Step 3: CLIMAX Conflict reaches a peak or turning point. Moment of greatest tension. This is the part of the Plot Rollercoaster where you reach that peak and you are about to fall! This is the point in the story when everything is resolved…either in a good way, or a bad way. Think about the movie The Lion King. The climax is when Simba comes back to his home to become king after trying to discover his identity, and this is also when he discovers that Scar killed his father and they fight. Simba wins, so in this instance, good wins.
Step 4: FALLING ACTION The tension lessens, leading to the resolution. These scenes or events are the ones that occur right before the end of the movie. The Falling Action is the part of the Plot Rollercoaster after you’ve seen all the big drops and you are slowly heading into the station to end the ride….usually a short amount of time. Think of the movie Avatar. The battle is over, the Navi have won at a great cost, and what is left of their people gather around their sacred tree to see if they can revive Jake.
Step 5: RESOLUTION The outcome of the story is decided. This is the end of the Plot Rollercoaster. Was it fun? Was it too scary, or too jerky? Was it not exciting enough? This is the time in the story when everything ends…either in a good or a bad way…some stories have happy endings and some don’t. Think of the movie My Sister’s Keeper. The resolution is when Kate’s family goes home after her death, and begins to try and reconnect with each other in their own ways…and they try and remember the happy times they had together when Kate was living.
SETTING When and where a story takes place. Some stories do not come straight out and say where or when they take place…so you may have to look for clues to figure out where a story takes place and when. Clues about time could be technology or clothing, and clues about place could be climate, plants, or landmarks. Also, authors may use setting to create a certain atmosphere or mood for their story.
CONFLICT There are two types of conflicts: Internal Conflict External Conflict The conflict of the story is the issue or problem. Usually the conflict is resolved or sorted out, but sometimes it is not. Conflicts are what makes a story exciting. Imagining watching a movie or reading a book where nothing happens and there are no problems….Boring right?
INTERNAL CONFLICT A struggle WITHIN a character. Haven’t you had an argument with yourself? Haven’t you tried to talk yourself out of doing something you shouldn’t, or talk yourself into doing something you should? This is internal conflict, and all characters have this conflict at some point. Think about the movie The Blind Side. Michael Yore is always having internal conflict. Should he trust this rich, white family? Should he play for Ole Miss? Should he open himself up to these people? Even Sandra Bullock’s character, the mother struggles with herself about whether she is doing the right thing for Michael or not.
External Conflict: Person vs. Person There is a problem or fight between two or more characters in the story. Think about the movie Elf. Buddy’s father is in conflict with Buddy because he does not want to accept that Buddy may be his son.
External Conflict: Person vs. Nature The character struggles against a force of nature or some aspect of the environment. In the movie Into the Wild, the main character ventures out to live in the Alaskan wilderness, and encounters starvation, extreme weather, wild animals, and he eventually gets sick out there and dies without medicine.
External Conflict: Person vs. Society The character goes against the rules or values of the group in which he/she lives. In the book The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne and her family and friends live in Nazi Germany at a time when Jewish people were to be handed over to the authorities; however, Anne and her family are hidden by another family and protected from the Nazis for a short while. The family that helped the Franks and the Franks themselves were going against the rules of the society in which they lived.
External Conflict: Person vs Fate The character must struggle against his/her destiny or some force beyond the character’s control. In the Harry Potter books, Harry struggles against his destiny to fight Lord Voldemort because he knows there is a large chance that he may lose…in the end, Harry does accept his destiny.
POINT OF VIEW Who is telling the story? An automobile accident occurs. Two drivers are involved. Witnesses include four sidewalk spectators, a policeman, a man with a video camera who happened to be shooting the scene, and the pilot of a helicopter that was flying overhead. Here we have nine different points of view and, most likely, nine different descriptions of the accident. In short fiction, who tells the story and how it is told are critical issues for an author to decide. The tone and feel of the story, and even its meaning, can change radically depending on who is telling the story.
FIRST PERSON The first person point of view tells a story through the eyes of a narrator who is part of the story. The only events included in the story are those that the narrator experiences directly or learns about through someone else. Key words: “I, we, me, my, us, and our”
SECOND PERSON Used most often in practical reading materials such as instructions, directions, or travel brochures. Using this point of view, the writer speaks directly to the reader using the pronoun “you.” The second person point of view is not commonly used in modern fiction.
THIRD PERSON LIMITED The narrator IS NOT a character. The narrator focuses on a single character’s thoughts and actions THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT The narrator tells the reader the thoughts and actions of several or all of the characters. The narrator refers to the characters with pronouns such as “she, he, her, his, they, and them”
Why is POV important? You should be able to “hear” the narrator through his or her unique voice. What words does the narrator use? Is the language very formal, or does it contain slang? The very nature of the story depends on the author’s choice of narrator and voice. The closer a narration is to a particular character’s pov, the more we identify with that character and how he or she sees the other characters and events in the story. Point of view also determines how much we get to know about the characters and the plot. Imagine how different the Diary of Anne Frank’s story would be if it was told through the eyes of a Nazi soldier.
THEME The lessons about life in a story is the theme…this is the message about love, life, or friendship that the writer wants to share with us. The theme is the author’s message or the work’s meaning. The “moral” of the story.
THE END Literary Devices are the things every story needs. These were the building blocks of storytelling. Almost any story can be reduced to this statement: “Something happens to someone, somewhere.” Something = Plot Someone = character Somewhere = Setting In a good story, these elements work together to create a unified effect.