Elements of a Short Story Terms

Literary Elements

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Page 1: Literary Elements

Elements of a Short Story


Page 2: Literary Elements


• A series of related events that present and resolve a conflict

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Plot Diagram

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Exposition and Rising Action

• Exposition– The part of the story, usually near

the beginning, in which the

characters are introduced, the

background is explained, and the

setting is described.

• Rising Action– The central part of a story during which various

problems arise after a conflict is introduced.

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Climax, Falling Action and Resolution

• Climax– The most exciting point

in the story, when the conflict is decided

• Falling Action– The action and

dialogue following the climax that lead the reader into the story’s end.

•Resolution- The conflict is resolved (positively or negatively) and the story is brought to a close - Also know as “Denouement”

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Main characters• Protagonist

– MAIN CHARACTER of the story

– Often, hero or character the audience is supposed to feel most sympathetic for

• Not always…for example, the main character could be a serial killer.

• Antagonist– primary adversary of the


– Sometimes the villain • Again, not always. In the previous

example, the policeman who is trying to catch the serial killer (who is the main character, and therefore the protagonist) is the antagonist.

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• The Primary struggle between the main character or characters and an adverse character, group or force

• Internal Conflict– A struggle between a

character and him/herself

• External Conflict– A struggle between a

character and an outside force.

• Man vs. Man• Man vs. Nature• Man vs. Supernatural• Man vs. Society

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• Small problems in addition to the conflict that add interest to the story

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• The uncertainty or anxiety that a reader feels about what will happen in a story – Foreshadowing– Dilemma– Mystery– Reversal

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• Clues (real or false) that hint at a story’s outcome

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• A character that we care about is in peril or must choose between two dangerous courses of action

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• The creation of suspense by withholding information or by presenting unusual circumstances

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• A sudden change in a character’s situation from good to bad or vice versa

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Characterization• The technique used by a writer to

create and reveal the personalities of the characters in a written work. This may be done by:

• Direct Characterization– The author directly states aspects of

the character’s personality• i.e. He was a grumpy and unfriendly old

man, known for his hatred of young children and puppies.

• Indirect Characterization– More common method for most

characters, especially major characters– We must infer personality traits from

the story

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Indirect Characterization

• Indirect Characterization may be accomplished by– describing the character’s

physical appearance and situation,

– revealing a characters thoughts,

– The character’s words or actions,

– showing the reaction of other characters.

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Types of Characters

• Flat Character– shows only one trait

• Round Character– Shows many different traits, good and bad

• Static Character– character does not change through the course of the

story• Dynamic Character

– character develops and grows during the course of the story

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• The time and place in which the action of a narrative occurs

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• The underlying meaning of a literary work.

• This differs from the subject in that it involves a statement of opinion about that subject.

• The theme may be stated or implied.

• Not every literary work has a theme, and some have more than one

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Point of View

• The relationship between the narrator of a story and the characters in it

• Narrator is NOT the same as author

• Types of POV:– First Person

– Third Person, Omniscient

– Third Person, Limited Omniscient

– Third Person, Objective

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P.O.V. continued

• First Person– The narrator offers a

personal account of their own experiences or describes what happens to other characters as the narrator sees it

• Third Person– The narrator stands outside

the action (non-participatory) and presents

• Omniscient– (all-knowing) point of

view – Can see the thoughts &

emotions of all (or numerous) characters

• Limited Omniscient– focuses on one character’s

thoughts and viewpoints

• Objective– Describes only what can be

seen– “Reporter style”

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• Irony: differences in appearance and reality, or expectations and results, or meaning and intention– Dramatic Irony:

• a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader or audience knows to be true

– Situational Irony: • an event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of

the characters, readers, or audience– Verbal Irony:

• words are used to suggest the opposite of what is meant (i.e. sarcasm, double-entendre, etc.)