Authors of this page are (left to right) Calley Fletcher, James Scott, Ben Aiken, Abby Landis, Lindsey Farrell, and Veena Rangaswami.
etymology: from fiction, a shaping, hence a feigning
definition: "A story which has been made up by the author" (Littauer).
Anticlimax. A break in the climactic order of events, making the effect of the climax less intense.
Conflict. A struggle that grows out of interplay of two opposing forces in plot--provides interest, suspense, and tension.
1) struggle between a character and another character
2) struggle between a character and nature
3) struggle between a character and society
4) struggle between a character and fate or destiny
5) struggle for mastery between two elements within a person
(Holman and Harmon)
Deus ex machina. Literally, "God from the machine." The resolution of the plot by some incredibly implausible chance or coincidence.
Flashback. "A reference to an event which took place prior to the beginning of a story or play" (Littauer).
Framework story. "A story inside a narrative setting; a story within a story; frequently used in classical and modern writing" (Holman and Harmon).
Local color. "Writing that exploits the speech, dress, mannerisms, habits of thought, and topography peculiar to a certain region. All fiction has a locale but local color writing exists primarily for the portrayal of the people and life of a geographical setting" (Holman and Harmon).
Plot. The structure of a story, or the sequence in which the author arranges events in a story. A plot may include flashbacks, or it may include a subplot that is a mirror image of the main plot.
Exposition. The process of telling a reader the information he or she needs as the novel begins.
Complication of plot. "The interplay between character and event which builds up tension and develops a problem out of the original situation given in the story" (Brooks and Warren).
Rising action. "The part of a drama which sets the stage for the climax" (Littauer). (Complication and rising action are essentially two names for the same series of events.)
Climax. "The turning point or high point in a plot" (Perrine and Arp 1406).
Denouement. "The final resolution or untying of the plot. It sometimes, but not always, coincides with the climax" (Brooks and Warren).
Falling action. The series of events that take place after the climax and that lead to the conclusion. (Denouement and falling action are essentially two names for the same series of events.)
Setting. Time and place where the story is set.
Stream of consciousness. A lengthy passage in literature where a character examines his/her own thoughts and feelings.
Subplot. "A subordinate or minor complication running throughout a piece of fiction" (Holman and Harmon).
POINT OF VIEW
A piece of literature contains a speaker who is speaking either in the first person, telling things from his or her own perspective, or in the third person, telling things from the perspective of an onlooker. The perspective is called the point of view.
Objective point of view. The author does not permit the reader to hear any characters' thoughts--only characters' actions and words (hence dramatic). "Implies an attitude of detachment toward the material which is being pursued, a refusal to comment and interpret directly" (Brooks and Warren).
First person point of view. "A type of point of view in which a character tells the story in first person" (Perrine and Arp 1413).
Limited omniscient point of view. "The author tells the story using third person, but is limited to a complete knowledge of only one character in the story and tells us only what that one character thinks, feels, sees, or hears" (Perrine and Arp 1413).
Omniscient point of view. "The author tells the story, using the third person, knowing all and free to tell us anything" (Perrine and Arp 1413).
A person, or any thing presented as a person, e.g., a spirit, object, animal, or natural force, in a literary work.
Antagonist. "A force in a story in conflict with the protagonist . . . may be another person, an aspect of the physical or social environment, or a destructive element in the protagonist's own nature" (Perrine and Arp 1405).
Characterization. Revelation of the personality of a character in a literary work. Methods of characterization include (1) by what the character says about himself or herself, (2) by what others reveal about the character, and (3) by the character's own actions.
Developing character. Also known as a dynamic character, he or she "undergoes a permanent change in some aspect of character or outlook" (Perrine and Arp 1406).
Flat character. "A character whose character is summed up in one or two traits" (Perrine and Arp 1406).
Foil character. "A minor character whose situation or actions parallel those of a major character, and thus by contrast sets off or illuminates the major character" (Perrine and Arp 1406).
Motivation. What makes a character do what he or she does, whether those influences are goals, incentives, or the nature of the character.
Naive narrator. A narrator who is unaware of or chooses not to believe the surroundings or events that are taking place.
Narrator. The person who tells the story.
Protagonist. "The hero or central character of a literary work" (Littauer).
Round character. A character in a novel whose personality is complex and multi-faceted.
Static character. "A character who is the same sort of person at the end of a story as it is at the beginning" (Perrine and Arp 1406).
Stock character. "A stereotyped character" (Perrine and Arp 1406).
Unreliable narrator. A narrator who is not clear on the plot himself or other characters and therefore is unable to support the views intended by the author.
A literary type or form.
Anecdote. "A short narrative detailing particulars of an interesting episode or event--lacks complicated plot and relates a single episode" (Holman and Harmon).
Bildungsroman. "A novel that deals with the development of a young person, usually from adolescence to maturity; it's frequently autobiographical" (Holman and Harmon).
Comedy. "A literary work which is amusing and ends happily" (Littauer).
Commercial fiction. Fiction that is written to satisfy a wide audience. Commercial fiction normally has a standard formula to achieve the desired goal.
Dystopia. Unfortunate "accounts of imaginary worlds, usually in the future in which present tendencies are carried out to their intensely unpleasant culminations" (Holman and Harmon).
Epistolary novel. A novel where the narrative is carried forward by letters written by one or more of the characters.
Fantasy. "A kind of fiction that pictures creatures or events beyond the boundaries of known reality" (Holman and Harmon).
Historical fiction. Fiction whose setting is in some earlier time than that in which it is written.
Nonfiction novel. A novel "in which a historical event is described in a way that exploits some of the devices of fiction, including a nonlinear time sequence and access to inner states of mind and feeling not commonly present in historical writing" (Holman and Harmon).
Novel. "A fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes" (Random House Dictionary of the English Language).
Novella. "A prose fiction longer than a short story but shorter than a novel" (Harris).
Picaresque novel. A work in which a low character does menial tasks in a kind of random episodic nature.
Romance. 1) A "prose narrative about improbable events involving characters" that differ from ordinary people. 2) A typical love story. "(boy meets girl, obstacles interfere, they overcome obstacles, they live happily ever after)" (Harris).
Satire. A piece of literature designed to ridicule the subject of the work. While satire can be funny, its aim is not to amuse, but to arouse contempt.
Science Fiction. A form of fantasy in which scientific knowledge is used in adventures on other planets and/or other dimensions.
Short Story. "A short fictional narrative" (Littauer).
Vignette. "A sketch, essay, or brief narrative characterized by precision and delicacy . . . it may be a separate whole or a portion of a larger work . . . the term is also applied to very brief short stories less than 500 words" (Holman and Harmon).
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