A basis in realism (“versimilitude”)
Even fantasy is derived from a
perception of life and action that is
Art imitates life.
Life imitates art.
Original meaning: “Anything made up,
crafted, or shaped.”
The essence of fiction: NARRATION
Modern fiction: HUMAN NATURE
The psychological and highly individual
NOVEL vs. SHORT STORY
Levels of reality
Postulate (given premise)
They remain stories about
characters you find in real life.
A character is someone who wants, and
that’s what a character is.
The nature of one’s desire determines
the nature of his morality.
Deep desire and immediate desire.
__(name) __ is a __(adjective)__- _____
year old (noun) who wants
Desire >>> Goal >>> Action
VOICE, ACTION, THOUGHT
the point of view of the character
Words, actions and things, which can be
seen and heard, express and reveal
character and feeling that can neither be
seen nor heard.
What a character says vs. what a character
What is expressed voluntarily and
DISCOVERY and DECISION
Appearance, speech, action, and thought
Thought is most frequently at odds with
one or more of the other three.
Small acts that betray feelings
Place and time of a story
The natural or artificial scenery or
environment in which characters in
literature live and move.
Period in history
Political, social, and /or historical context
Mood / atmosphere
Nature itself is seen as a force that
shapes action and therefore directs and
A deep wood
An open road
A mountain top
Manufactured things always reflect the
people who made them, live in them, and
ultimately the social and political orders
that maintain conditions.
A richly decorated house
Who is standing where to watch the
Voice of the teller, intended listener,
distance or closeness of both action and
Stream of consciousness
Is the narrator reliable? Can you
trust the narrator?
The interrelationship of incidents and
characters within a total design is the plot
of the story.
A series of lifelike actions or incidents
which in total make up the story
A map, scheme or blueprint
Development and resolution of a conflict
in which a PROTAGONIST is engaged in
a struggle of some sort, which is directed
at an ANTAGONIST.
A pattern of cause and effect that can be
traced in a sequence or chronology
The way the plot is assembled
Direct chronological order
Remembrances / flashbacks
Fragments of letters
Language of dialogue indicates:
Limited or disadvantaged background
Private, intimate expressions show closeness.
The suspense, anxiety, nervousness,
strain, urgency, excitement, or fear that
grips us as we read.
The careful planting of questions in the
What hooks readers of any age and
keeps them turning pages
The presence of conflict
The driving force – it propels the plot and
grabs the reader’s interest
The stated character’s objective
The outer goal is resolved in the climax
Exists alongside the outer goal
May be consistent or at odds with the outer
A character may or may not be aware of this
Comes from obstacles between characters and
Source may be environment or other characters
Comes from the obstacles characters create
for themselves through self-sabotage or an
incompatibility between the outer goal and
Characters at risk of losing something of
great significance to them if their goals or
desires aren’t met
Stakes increase as when protagonists near
Roberts, Edgar V. and Jacobs, Henry E.
Literature: An Introduction to Reading and
Writing. Eagleton Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1986.
Burroway, Janet. Imaginative Writing: The
Elements of Craft. New York: Longman,
Peterson, Ralph and Eeds, Maryann. Grand
Conversations. Ontario: Scholastic, 1990.