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Howes Literary Terms

Literary Terms

Plot Sequence of events in a literary work
Exposition Introduces the setting, characters, and basic situation
Rising Action All events leading up to the climax
Climax High point of interest or suspense
Falling Action Events occurring after the climax
Resolution A general insight or change is conveyed
Narrator A speaker or character who tells the story
Point of View Directs the type and amount of information the writer reveals.
First Person Readers see only what this character sees, hear only what this character hears, and so on.
Omniscient Can tell readers what all characters think and feel.
Third Person Limited Sees the world through one character’s eyes and reveals only that character’s thoughts.
Setting Time and place of the action. Includes historical period – past, present, and future – and also year, season, and time of day. Place may include geographical location and also social, economic, or cultural environment.
Character A person or animal that takes part in the action of a literary work.
Static Does not change
Dynamic Develops and grows throughout the course of the story
Flat Shows only one trait
Round Shows many different traits – faults as well as virtues
Motivation A reason that explains why a character thinks, feels, acts, or behaves in a certain way.
Conflict A struggle between opposing forces
Internal Conflict A character who struggles with him or herself.
External Conflict Main character struggles against an outside force
Protagonist The main character of a literary work
Antagonist Character or force in conflict with a main character, or protagonist
Direct Characterization The author directly states the character’s traits.
Indirect Characterization The author provides clues about a character by describing what a character looks like, does, and says as well as how others react to him or her.
Figurative Language Writing or speech not meant to be interpreted literally.
Alliteration Repetition of initial consonant sounds
Allusion Reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art
Flashback A means by which the authors present material that occurred earlier than the present tense of the narrative
Foreshadowing The use in a literary work of clues that suggest events that have yet to occur
Imagery Descriptive or figurative language used in literature to create word pictures for the reader often using the five senses
Irony Differences between appearance and reality, or expectation and result
Verbal Irony Words are used to suggest the opposite of what is meant
Dramatic Irony A contradiction between what the character thinks and what the reader knows to be true
Situational Irony An event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the characters, the reader, or the audience
Metaphor A figure of speech in which one thing is spoken of as though it were something else.
Simile A figure of speech in which the words like, as or than are used to compare two apparently dissimilar items.
Symbolism Anything that stands for something else.
Theme Central message or insight into life revealed through a literary work
Tone The writer’s attitude toward his or her audience and subject often described by a single adjective
Mood A feeling created in the reader by a literary work
Onomatopoeia The use of words that imitate sounds
Personification A type of figurative language in which a nonhuman object is given human characteristics
Created by: howesmi