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Literary Terms

Terms and definitions

TermDefinitionExample
Plot A series of events that make up the action in a story. John argued with his mother, ran away from home, realized he was homesick, and went back home.
Conflict A struggle between two opposing forces. John argued with his mother.
Internal conflict A struggle within a person that does not involve an outside force. Tom was trying to decide where to go to college.
External conflict A struggle between a person and an outside force. Tom and his parents argued over his choice of college.
Rising action Complications that arise throughout the story. John gets cold and hungry when he runs away from home.
Climax The high point of action or suspense in a story. John falls down and scratches his knee and realizes he misses his mother.
Resolution The point of the story when the conflict is resolved. John's mother welcomes him home and fixes him a good supper.
Point of view The perspective from which a story is told. First or third person.
First person point of view A character tells the story. Uses I, me, we, or us.
Third person point of view An outside narrator tells the story. Uses he, she, him, her.
Dynamic character A character who changes throughout the story. Ebenezer Scrooge changes from being mean and stingy to kind and charitable.
Static character A character that does not change. Scrooge's nephew Fred is kind and cheerful throughout the story.
Foreshadowing Hints or clues the author gives to suggest events that will happen later. Dickens mentions that Marley is dead in the first line of the story and the reader thinks this may be important later.
Metaphor A comparison between two unlike things that does not use "like" or "as." Scrooge was the ogre of the family.
Simile A comparison between two unlike things that does use the words "like" or "as." He was as quick as lightning.
Personification Giving human qualities to nonhuman things. The bony fingers of the tree limbs tore at their clothing as the riders passed.
Theme The lesson about life an author wants to teach through a story. The author wants the reader to learn that love and kindness are more valuable than money and possessions.
Setting The time and place of the action of a story. 1800's in London, England
Historical fiction A made-up story that includes some true history. The novel Or Give Me Death
Science fiction A made-up story that takes place in the future. A novel about aliens or outer space.
Realistic fiction A made-up story that could possibly really happen. A novel about a teenager moving to a new school.
Nonfiction A true story that is not made up. A biography or autobiography.
Fantasy fiction A made-up story that has magic and dragons. Eragon
Created by: dcloninger