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Short Story Unit Literary Terms & Definitions . Adapted by Scott Victor from Erin Salona. Parts of Plot . Plot: The sequence of events in a story. Exposition: The basic situation of a story—this is where the reader learns the background information necessary to understand the story.

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Short Story Unit Literary Terms & Definitions

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short story unit literary terms definitions

Short Story Unit Literary Terms & Definitions

Adapted by Scott Victor

from Erin Salona

parts of plot
Parts of Plot
  • Plot: The sequence of events in a story.
  • Exposition: The basic situation of a story—this is where the reader learns the background information necessary to understand the story.
exposition example
Exposition Example

The reader learns Liz lives in an apartment by herself.

Liz is 25-years-old.

Liz is tired from a long day at work as a nurse.

Liz is talking on her cell-phone to her best friend Julie as she walks to the door of her own home.

parts of plot4
Parts of Plot
  • Complication (Rising Action): The part of the story which occurs between the exposition and climax. Here is where conflicts occur which build up the story and make it interesting.
complication rising action example
Complication: Rising Action Example

Liz hears some strange thumping sounds coming from the inside of her apartment as she is about to put her key in the door.

Liz tells Julie she hears something.

Julie suggests she calls the police.

Liz tells Julie that she was probably imagining the sounds but still hears them.

complication continued
Complication Continued

Liz opens the door to her apartment and sets her bag by the door.

Her heart jumps when she sees a pair of black shoes peeking out from under her living room curtains.

The curtain moves slightly.

parts of plot7
Parts of Plot

Climax: The main conflict is typically resolved at this place.This is also known as the turning point or highest point of action in a story.

climax example
Climax Example

Liz bravely walks up to the curtain and picks up a heavy candlestick on the way.

She strikes the candlestick against the curtain, and at the same time, something grabs her hand from behind the curtain.

Liz drops the candlestick, and a tall man with a black mask emerges from behind the curtain.

Suddenly, her front door is flung open.

parts of plot9
Parts of Plot
  • Resolution (Falling Action): The part of the story which occurs after the climax and continues to the end of the story. Here is where loose ends are tied up toward the end of the story.
falling action example
Falling Action Example

The police emerge, and the masked man releases Liz from his grasp.

He quickly exits her home through the open window, but is met with the gun from a policeman.

Julie had called the police for Liz.

Liz realizes many of her possessions are knocked over or broken.

parts of plot11
Parts of Plot

Resolution: The final outcome of the story.

resolution example
Resolution Example

The police try to comfort Liz while taking her statement.

Liz packs some possessions to take to Julie’s house for the night.

She decides to invest in a second lock for her door in the morning and to install a burglar system. She knows it will be difficult to continue living in her home.

parts of plot13


Parts of Plot


Falling Action

Rising Action




Basic Situation

plot curve


Rising Action

Falling Action





Plot Curve
  • Internal Conflict: A conflict that occurs within a character’s mind. (man vs. himself)
  • External Conflict: A conflict that occurs between a character and an outside force. Man vs. man, man vs. nature, for example.
  • Static Character: A character who does NOT change throughout the story.
  • Dynamic Character: A character who changes throughout the story.
  • Round Character: A character with many qualities and personality traits.
  • Flat Character: A character with only a couple characteristics; is often the stereotypical character in a story.
  • Protagonist: The main character of a story—who pushes the action of the story forward.
  • Antagonist: The character who frustrates, deceives, or works against the main character.
methods of characterization
Methods of Characterization
  • Direct Characterization: The narrator makes direct comments about the character. i.e. “She is friendly.”
  • Indirect Characterization: We learn about the character through her speech, thoughts, feelings, actions, physical appearance and through other characters’ thoughts, feelings, and speech about her.
  • Setting: Where and when the story takes place.
  • Place - geographical location. Where is the action of the story taking place?
  • Time - When is the story taking place? (historical period, time of day, year, etc)
  • Weather conditions - Is it rainy, sunny, stormy, etc?
point of view
Point of View
  • Who is telling the story?
    • 1st Person POV: The narrator is a character in the story and uses “I” or “me” when telling the story.
    • 2nd Person POV: The narrator brings “you”, the reader, into the story when telling the story.
point of view25
Point of View
  • 3rd Person Limited POV: The narrator tells only what one character thinks, feels, and observes, and uses “he,” “they,” “she,” etc.
  • 3rd Person Omniscient POV: The narrator sees into the minds of more than one character when telling the story– uses “he,” “she,” “they,” etc.
point of view26
Point of View

3rd Person Objective Point of View:

the narrator tells what happens without stating more than can be inferred from the story's action and dialogue.

The narrator never discloses anything about what the characters think or feel, remaining a detached observer.

3rd person pronouns are used (he, she, etc.)

point of view27
Point of View

How can the point of view from which the story is told affect the credibility (believability) of the story?

Consider: “Seventh Grade” is told in 3rd person omniscient, allowing the reader to access all characters perspective. What if the story was told solely from Victor’s perspective? What would change?

  • The use of hints or clues to indicate events and situations that will occur later in the plot.
    • Spooky music
    • Thunder and lightening
    • A new suspicious character introduced (purpose unknown at the time)
  • The excitement or tension a reader feels when reading.
    • I wonder what will happen next?
  • The feeling or atmosphere that the writer creates for the reader through word choice and imagery.
  • Types of mood: scary, romantic,

violent, hopeful, etc.

  • Tone - the manner in which written words might be said (for example, sarcastic, mild, witty, angry)
genres of literature
Genres of Literature
  • Mythology
  • Poetry
  • Short stories
  • Dramas
  • Comedy
  • Different types of writing each genre shapes a theme or topic differently. Genres include…
  • Classic literature
  • Contemporary lit.
  • Historical fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Science fiction
  • Folklore
  • A perception about life that the writer conveys to the reader. A theme must be written in a complete sentence, and must apply to the story as well as to life in general.
  • A good way to find the theme is to ask yourself the question, what does the main character learn in the course of the story?

“There are some things that can never be fixed or repaired, even if you spend a lifetime trying..”

“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.”

“Money does not guarantee happiness.”

universal themes
Universal Themes
  • Recurring themes (such as good versus evil) that appear frequently across traditional and contemporary works.
    • Love
    • Abuse of power
    • Coming of age
    • Effects of the past
    • Courage
  • A person, place, thing, or event that stands for itself and for something beyond itself as well.
  • Examples: the American flag symbolizes freedom, liberty, and love for America.
  • A wedding band symbolizes_______.
  • A white flag symbolizes__________.
symbols in literature
Symbols in Literature
  • Dove = Peace
  • Eagle = freedom, liberty, strength
  • Spring = new beginning, re-birth, birth
  • Summer = youth, prime of life
  • Fall/Autumn = middle age, maturity
  • Winter = death, dying, old age, the end
  • Water = birth, re-birth, renewal, purification
symbols in literature39
Symbols in Literature

Rose = love, beauty

Sunrise = new start, beginning

Sunset = coming to an end

Full moon = danger, bizarre behavior

Sleep = death

Skull = death

Forest = place of testing or challenge

Light = good, hope, freedom

symbols in literature40
Symbols in Literature

Darkness = evil, magic, fear, unknown

Red = anger, passion

Blue = happiness, peacefulness, sadness, intellect

Green = jealousy, wealth, growth

Black = death, evil

White = purity, innocence