Lit Terms

Question Answer Example
Plot The sequence of events in a story.
Exposition The information given in the story that enables the reader to understand the plot.
Conflict The struggle between two opposing forces at the center of the plot.
External Conflict Occurs when the character struggles against an outside force such as another person, nature, society, or fate.
Types of External Conflict Human versus Human,
Human versus nature,
Human versus society,
Human versus fate
Internal Conflict A problem that occurs within a person. Human versus Self
Rising Action In a play or story, the action and conflicts that lead to the climax.
Climax (turning point) The high point in the plot after which there is falling action.
Falling Action All action that takes place after the climax.
Denouement The conclusions or tying up of loose ends in a literary work; the resolution of the conflict and plot.
Cliche' Something that is easily recognizable because it has been overused.
Suspense The quality that makes the audience (the reader) want to know what will happen next.

Foreshadowing A clue that prepares the reader for what will happen later on in the story.
Deus Ex Machina When the author (like a god) steps in to solve the conflict.

Symbol A person, object, or place that represents something else in addition to its literal meaning.

Irony The contrast between actual meaning and the suggestion of another meaning.
Situational Irony Results from recognizing the oddness or unfairness of a given situation be it positive or negative.
Verbal Irony Occurs when the actual intent that is expressed in words carries the opposite meaning. It is less harsh than sarcasm.
Point of View The perspective from which a story is told.
Flat or stock character One dimensional character/stereotype
Stereotype A flat, cliche character without variation
Round Character A character who shows a variety of complex and contradictory traits.
Static Character A character who remains primarily the same throughout the work.
Dynamic Character A character that undergoes a change of heart or world view as a result of actions of plot.

Antihero A character who is markedly unheroic, morally weak, cowardly, dishonest, or any number of unsavory qualities.

Archetype An original model or type after which other similar things are patterned; a prototype. Hint: Universal Type
Protagonist The central character of a literary work. The action usually revolves around this character who generally receives the reader’s sympathy.
Antagonist A character, institution, group, or force that is in conflict with the protagonist.
Indirect Characterization The character is shown through looks, actions, words, reactions.
Direct Characterization The author comes straight out and tells about the character.
First Person Point of View The story is told by one of the characters using personal pronouns like I, me, our, and we.
Second Person Point of View The story is told through the use or you or your as pronouns.
Third Person Point of View The story is told by one of the characters using pronouns like he, she, and they.
Third Person Limited Point of view: Narrator stands outside the story has limited awareness, understanding, and insight into character, setting, background, and all other elements of the story.
Third Person Omniscient Point of View Narrator who stands outside the story has unlimited awareness, understanding, and insight into character, setting, background, and all other elements of the story.
Allusion A reference to a well known, person, place, event, work or art, myth, or religion.
Setting The time, place, and general circumstance of a story.
Atmosphere The way that setting and landscape affects the tone or mood of a work.
Anachronism Something that does not fit into the time setting.
Theme The author's message on a topic.
Tone The attitude the author expresses towards his or her subject and audience.
Mood Emotional response that a piece of literature stimulates in the reader.
Suspension of disbelief The audience's willingness to believe in the plot of a literary work.
Personification A figure of speech that attributes human qualities to an inanimate object.
Diction Word choice.
Dramatic Irony The audience is aware of what the character is not.
Think of a person watching a movie and seeing the killer behind the unsuspecting character.

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