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Literary Terms

8th Grade Literary Terms, Mrs. Murphy at R.H. Dana Middle School

QuestionAnswer
plot The chain of related events that tells us what happens in a story.
conflict The struggle or problems characters face. This is what keeps them from getting what they want.
internal conflict Struggle within a character’s own mind.
external conflict Struggle with another character or force of nature.
complications Events in a story that make things more difficult or complex. They make the conflict more intense and realistic. They are sometimes called the rising action or series of events.
climax The most suspenseful or exciting moment in a story. Usually the outcome of the plot becomes clear.
resolution The end of a story. Usually all the loose ends are tied up.
foreshadowing The use of clues to suggest what will happen later in a story. This may make a story more exciting or suspenseful.
subplot A minor plot that relates to the main story.
parallel episodes Repeated elements of the plot. They often happen three times. Examples - Algernon and Charlie race in the maze over and over again.
suspense The anxiety or uncertainty you feel when you do not know what will happen next in a story. It's that "yikes" feeling. Writers often use foreshadowing to create suspense.
setting The time a place of a story
characterization The way a writer reveals the personality of a character. There are two main types of characterization.
direct characterization When a writer tells us directly what a character is like. Example - Susie was the meanest girl in the whole school.
indirect characterization When a writer shows us what a character is like by letting us see: what a character looks like or how they dress; what a character thinks or feels; what a character says; what a character does (their actions); and what other characters say, think or do.
theme The truth about life revealed in a work of literature. A lesson can be a theme, but not all themes are lessons.
To determine a story's theme, ask yourself these three questions: 1)Does the main character learn something? 2)Do we as readers learn something? 3)What does the story reveal about life or what it means to be human?
Response to Literature When we write a response to literature, we are writing about our interpretation of a piece of text. You may be asked to write about the characters and the problems they face or the theme of the story.
static character A character who does not change in an important way over the course of a story. They start and end the story with many of the same beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
dynamic character A character who changes in an important way over the course of a story. Their thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes change over time.
prose Any writing that is not poetry. This includes novels, essays, articles, short stories, etc.
simile A comparison between two unlike things, using the word like, as than, or resembles.