ELEMENTS OF LITERATURE  (Leopard’s Blue Sheets)

1. Plot: sequence of events in a story; "what happens"

A.      Exposition: introduces the situation, characters, setting, conflict

B.      Narrative hook: (inciting incident) where the action begins; the part that grabs the reader’s attention

C.      Rising action: action is building, excitement and suspense grow

D.      Climax: high point of story; most exciting part

E.      Falling action: excitement starts falling; action slows

F.       Resolution: outcome/conclusion/ending (conflict is resolved)


2. Conflict: struggle between opposing forces; may be internal or external

    A. Internal: within self                    (man vs. himself) 

    B. External: against outside forces       (man vs. man)  (man vs. nature)   (man vs. fate)


3. Characters/characterization

A. Direct characterization: the narrator or a character in the story tells us what we need to know about a character

B. Indirect characterization: we find out about characters indirectly through thoughts, comments, or actions of the characters

    C. Flat: character with few personality traits (few details given)

    D. Round: character with many personality traits (many details given)

E. Static: a character that does not change personality, beliefs, ideas, etc. throughout  the work


G.     Dynamic: a character that experiences some type of change during the course of the  story due to events (remember--dynamite changes!)

4. Setting: the time, place, and circumstances in which the action takes place.

    A. Mood or Atmosphere: the feeling created in the reader such as gloom, fear, or happiness

    B. Imagery: words and phrases that appeal to the five senses





5. Point of view: the angle from which we see things (through whose eyes?)

    A. First-person: the narrator is a character in the story and refers to himself using first-person pronouns ( I, me, my, mine, we, our, ours, us)

    B. Second-person: uses the word "you"

    C. Third-person: (two kinds)

    1. Limited-third: narrator relates the innermost thoughts and feelings of only one character and tells the story as seen through the eyes of that character (who may be biased)

    2. Omniscient:   (all knowing) the narrator tells the thoughts, feelings, and actions of all the characters 

(omnipotent--all powerful; omnipresent--everywhere at once)

6. Theme: (NOT the same as the plot!)  the main idea or insight into life the writer wants the reader to get from the story ….. the point the writer is trying to make


7. Foreshadowing: hints to what will happen later in story


8. Symbolism: one thing standing for another

    Examples: flag/freedom     wedding ring/unending love     red/anger   

    children/new beginning, spring     apple/teacher, knowledge     thunderstorm/turmoil, difficulty


9. Irony: something happens that is the opposite of what is expected

        Example: a child absolutely hates school, but grows up to be a teacher

        Three types of irony: verbal -- someone says one thing, but means another

                                          situational -- the opposite of what we expected

                                          dramatic -- reader knows information that the characters do not


10. Figures of speech (an expression that has more than a literal meaning) often used in short stories:

            A. Personification: giving human characteristics to non-human characters


B. Metaphor: comparison not using "like" or "as" (He was a snake.)


C. Simile: comparison using "like" or "as" (He acted like a snake.)


D. Hyperbole: an extreme exaggeration used for effect (I could chew nails!)


E. Understatement: something important being spoken of as if it were not important or had little meaning    (Ex: Romeo had a slight crush on Juliet.)


11. Allusion: a brief reference to a person, place, event, or another literary work. Most common allusions refer to the Bible or to mythology.


12. Suspense: the feeling of anxiety while waiting to find out what happens


13. Motivation: the reasons behind a character’s behavior

14. Flashback: going back to something that happened at an earlier time


15. Anecdote: brief story about an interesting, amusing, or strange event told to make a point about something or to capture the reader’s attention


16. Onomatopoeia: words that imitate sounds (boing, plop, buzz, pow)


17. Syntax: the way words and sentences are constructed to produce certain effects


18. Protagonist: the main character in a literary work


19. Antagonist: the character or force in conflict with the main character in a work


20. Denotation: actual dictionary definition and meaning of a word or phrase


21. Connotation: thoughts and emotions associated with a particular word or phrase

Ex: The denotation of "snot" is actually mucus, but the connotation is a gross and disgusting idea.


22. Stereotype: Lumping all members of a group together without recognizing individual differences

Ex: Some common victims of stereotyping include blondes, car dealers, politicians, and athletes.


23. Foil: a character in a story created to help make the main character appear good or smart

Ex: Barney Fife is a foil to Andy Griffith, Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes, and Roscoe to Boss Hogg.


24. Genre: word that means different "types" There are genres of literature, music, etc.


25. Three main types of literature are poetry, drama, and prose.


26. Poetry: (also called verse)  language of imagination expressed in rhythm, whatever appeals to the sense of ideal beauty


27. Drama: story written to be performed by actors (a play)


28. Prose: the ordinary, everyday form of writing (how we normally write)

    Two main types of drama: tragedy, comedy


29. Tragedy: sad, tragic, often contains death


30. Comedy: happy, lighthearted stories that make us feel good. Has a happy ending…not necessarily funny


31. Monologue: one character speaking to self or directly to the audience


32. Dialogue: conversation between two or more characters


    Types of Poetry:


33. Lyric (deeply emotional. Songs are lyrical poetry.)


34. Narrative (tells a story, epic poem)


35. Dramatic (involves techniques used in drama)  


 36. alliteration: beginning several words in a row (or words very close together in a passage) with the same sound;     

                EX: "The twisted trout twinkled below."

37. Apostrophe: (not the punctuation mark... a form of personification in which the dead or absent are spoken to as if  they are still there, and speaking to inanimate objects as if they are real. Used especially in ode poetry.

                EX: "You dumb chair! Why did you have to jump out into my walkway?"

38. Assonance: repetition of vowel sounds in a series of words;

                EX: Cry and side have the same vowel sounds and are considered to be in assonance.

39. Consonance: repetition of consonant sounds in words EX: "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers..."

40. Details: facts revealed by the author or speaker that support the attitude or the tone of in a piece of poetry or prose.

41. Diction: word choice intended to convey a certain effect

42. Narration: the telling of a story in writing or speaking

43. Oxymoron: a form of paradox that combines a pair of opposite terms into a single unusual expression EX: sweet sorrow, beautiful wickedness

44. Paradox: occurs when elements of a statement contradict each other. It may appear illogical, but actually makes sense.

45. Prosody: study of sound and rhythm in poetry

46. Pun: a play on words that are identical or similar in sound but have sharply diverse meanings; may be serious or humorous... Ex: Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man. (Mercutio from Romeo&Juliet... grave as in sad, also grave as in dead)

47. Sarcasm: pretending to praise something when actually insulting

48. Shift: change or movement in a work resulting from a realization or insight gained

49. Style: the way a writer uses the language in a work

50. Tone: the writer’s attitude toward a subject, character, or audience, conveyed through choice of words and detail. May be serious, humorous, sarcastic, witty, etc.

51. Allegory: story in which the characters and events are symbols expressing truths about human life

52. Satire: ridicule intended to expose truth

53. Ambiguity: having more than one meaning or interpretation

54. Text Structures: headings that organize and divide sections of a story

55. Objective writing: includes opinions of the author

56.  Subjective Writing: includes just the facts without giving the author's personal  views

57.  Ode:  poem praising and glorifying a person, place or thing.

58.  Sonnet:  lyric poem of fourteen lines, following one or another of several set rhyme-schemes

        English (Shakespearean)  rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg

        Italian (Petrarchan) rhyme scheme abab bcbc cdcd ee

59.  Frame story: one story inside of another

    (Ex: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Canterbury Tales)

60.  Voice: distinctive way in which a writer expresses ideas

61.  Inference (Infer, inferring) adding new information to what you already know in order to draw a conclusion about something

62.  extended metaphor- a metaphor that is carried out or repeated through several lines or throughout the entire work of literature

Vocabulary often used in multiple-choice questions:

Nostalgia or nostalgic—remembering the good old days; “back in the day”  

Stoic- showing no emotion, neither pain nor pleasure

Optimistic—always looking for the good in things

Pessimistic—thinking that whatever CAN go wrong, always WILL go wrong

Rational—being reasonable or having understanding


Eerie—a spooky, creepy, weird, or strange feeling

Vividly—clearly and with lots of detail

CONVEY—transfer, express, put into words, get across (Think of a conveyor belt.)

Exemplify—to show or illustrate by example

Perseverance—keep on trying, never giving up

Apathy—(apathetic) showing no interest or concern

Editorial--an article in a newspaper or other periodical presenting the opinion of the publisher, editor,





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