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8 Elements of Fiction
1. Conflict – A conflict is a struggle between opposing forces. Characters in conflict form the
basis of stories, novels, and plays. There are two kinds of conflict: External and Internal.
 External Conflict:
The main character struggles against an outside force.
 Internal Conflict:
Involves a character in conflict with him (her) self. An example is
a shy person struggling to open up.
 4 types: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Society
2. Character – A character is a person or an animal who takes part in the action of a literary
 Protagonist - The main character that is facing the conflict. The most important
character in the story. In most stories, the character changes in some important way
as a result of the events within the story.
 Antagonist - The character who opposes the main character – who introduces the
 Characters can be categorized as round or flat.
o A round character has depth. The reader learns a lot about the character, their
virtues and feelings.
o A flat character has little depth. You don’t learn much about a flat character
throughout a story. You know them as one-dimensional.
 Characters can also be dynamic or static.
o A dynamic character develops and grows during the course of the story.
o A static character shows little development throughout the story.
3. Plot – The plot is the sequence of events in a literary work. In most novels, dramas, short
stories, and narrative poems, the plot involves both characters and a central conflict.
 Exposition - introduces the setting, the characters, and the basic situation.
 Inciting incident - This is where the central conflict is introduced.
 Rising Action - conflict increases during the development of the story where the conflict
is laid out and becomes clearer to the reader.
 Climax - the high point of interest or suspense.
 Falling Action - The climax is followed by the falling action. The events that happen
between the high point and the Resolution
 Resolution - which is the end of the central conflict in the story. (Typically tied to theme)
 Denouement - Any activity after the resolution. Closing details.
4. Point of view – The point of view is the way that the story is told. That is, who is the
narrator. A narrator can be a character in the story or an outside observer. The writer’s
choice of narration determines the point of view of the story. Based on the point of view, the
author has certain limitations or ability to share information.
 First-person narrator – A character in the story is telling the story through their eyes.
This may be a major character in the story, a minor character, or just a witness to the
details of the story. Readers see only what this character sees, hears only what the
character hears and so on. The first-person narrator may or may not be reliable.
(Look for me, my, I, we)
 When a voice outside of the story is narrating – the story has a third-person narrator.
i. An omniscient, or all-knowing third-person narrator can tell readers what any
character is thinking or feeling.
ii. A limited third person narrator, sees the world through one character’s eyes and
reveals only that characters thoughts.
5. Setting: Time and place of the story. It can be a location (NY city), a physical location (Mt. Everest)
or it can be a period of time (the 1940’s, Vietnam War, the future).
6. Symbol: Something that stands for or represents something else. A rose = love. A flag represents a
7. Theme: The moral of the story. This represents the message that the author is trying to get across to
his audience.
8. Tone: Tone represents what the AUTHOR feels about the subject matter. Typically described in
adjectives: fun, troubled, sad, light-hearted.
9. Mood: The feeling that the READER has while reading the story.
Sub-Elements of Fiction:
1. Characterization – The act of creating and developing a character.
 Direct Characterization – Author directly states the character’s traits
 Indirect Characterization – when showing a character’s personality through their
words and / or actions – or- through the observations made by another character. The
reader must draw conclusions or use their personal inferences.
2. Foreshadowing – use of clues in a literary work that suggests events that have yet to occur.
Helps to create suspense. Keeps the reader wondering what may happen next.
3. Imagery – descriptive or figurative language used in literature to create word pictures for the
reader. Creates details of sight, sound, taste, touch, smell or movement. (Metaphors can be
used to create imagery)
4. Irony – general term for the literary technique that portrays differences between appearance
and reality, expectation and result.
a. Verbal Irony – words used to suggest the opposite of what is meant
b. Dramatic Irony – contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader
or audience knows to be true.
c. Situational Irony – event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the
characters, the readers, or the audience.
5. Personification – type of figurative language in which a nonhuman subject is given human
6. Suspense – A feeling of curiosity or uncertainty about the outcome of events in a literary
work. Suspense is created by raising questions in the minds of the readers. It is also created
through foreshadowing, characterization, and imagery.