elements of the short story and the novel n.
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Elements of the Short Story and the Novel. I. The Plot. The Plot Diagram. D. C. E. B. G. A. F. G. A. Introduction/Exposition. Various elements are often established or explained in the introduction

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elements of the short story and the novel

Elements of the Short Story and the Novel

i the plot
I. The Plot

The Plot Diagram









a introduction exposition
A. Introduction/Exposition

Various elements are often established or explained in the introduction

  • Characters
  • Setting – time and place
  • Mood and Tone
  • Key relationships
b the initial incident
B. The Initial Incident

This is the event that sparks the action in a story.

  • A conflict is introduced
  • An obstacle is put into place
  • A problem arises
  • The element of suspense is created – the reader is left asking “What will happen next?” There are two ways to create suspense: mystery (an explanation is craved) and dilemma (two or more undesirable choices are presented)
c rising action
C. Rising Action

The tension and interest in a story should rise progressively after the initial incident.

  • This section can be of varying lengths
  • New characters and new conflicts can be introduced.
  • Foreshadowing is often used in the rising action to give the reader hints about what will happen next and the possible outcome of the story.
d climax
D. Climax

This should be the peak of interest, tension and excitement in a story.

  • The outcome of the conflict should become clear after the peak.
  • The main character is either successful or not.
e falling action
E. Falling Action
  • Details are wrapped up.
  • Mysteries often have an explanation during the falling action
  • There is a lowering of tension as the reader is allowed to relax.
f denouement
F. Denouement
  • French for “final revelation”
  • This is often a last attempt to defeat the main character.
  • Often this surprise is unbelievable and short-lived.
  • The happy ending goes on after this bump in the road.
g conclusion
G. Conclusion
  • The story is brought to a close.
  • Order and harmony are often restored.
  • Often good is rewarded and evil is punished.
  • The reader should feel a sense of satisfaction after the conclusion – if the story was good.
ii characters
II. Characters
  • The protagonist is the main character in a story. He, she, it, or they struggle to overcome the main conflict or problem in the story.
  • The protagonist does not have to be the “good guy.”
  • The antagonist is the opponent to the protagonist. This person or thing stands in the way of the protagonist and his/her goal.
  • A convincing main character will be

1. Consistent – actions are in line with personality

2. Motivated – there is a reason for his/her actions

3. Plausible – believable within the world of the story

iii types of characters
III. Types of Characters
  • Flat – A flat character is one-dimensional.
  • Round – A round character is complex and multi-dimensional.
  • Stock – A stock character is a recognizable stereotype established through repeated use in literature. This type of character saves the writer time and effort since the reader already knows the character’s traits.
  • Static – A static character does not change, evolve or grow during the story.
  • Dynamic – A dynamic character will evolve during the story and undergo a permanent, significant change. This change can be for the better or for the worse.
iv characterization
IV. Characterization

Characters can be presented in two ways:

  • Direct Presentation – where the narrator or another character tells the reader exactly what the character is like.
  • Indirect Presentation – where the actions and words of the character allow the reader to infer what the character is like.
  • Methods of characterization – a writer can develop a character by revealing the following:
      • What they say
      • What they do
      • What others say about them
      • What they think
      • The appearance of the character
      • The surroundings of the character
  • The flashback is sometimes used to provide more information about a character. The character is prompted to remember something from his or her past that sheds light on the current situation.
v types of conflicts
V. Types of Conflicts
  • Man vs. Man – a conflict between people or animals
  • Man vs. Himself – a psychological battle within a character’s own mind
  • Man vs. Nature – a struggle against the elements for survival
  • Man vs. Society – a fight for justice often against the government
  • Man vs. The Supernatural – a battle with a non-physical entity or god-like figure
  • Man vs. Technology – a relatively new conflict that explores the ways in which technology may “turn against us”
vi point of view
VI. Point of View

This is the vantage point from which the story is told

  • Omniscient – The narrator is “all knowing” and the narration is in 3rd person (he, she, they, it).
  • Limited Omniscient – The narrator has specific knowledge of certain characters/events often “following” one character in particular and the narration is in 3rd person.
  • First Person – The narrator is part of the action and “I” is used to narrate the story.
  • Second Person – The narrator is addressing the reader using “you” in the narration. This point of view is seldom used difficult to sustain in a long story.
  • Objective – The narrator is a roving camera simply describing what is seen and heard without any emotional bias.
vii theme
VII. Theme
  • The theme is the controlling idea in a story.
  • This is the central insight that the author is offering the reader.
  • An explicit theme is clearly stated in the story by the narrator or a character.
  • An implicit theme is more subtle and needs more thought to figure out.
  • A moral is the simplest type of theme and is characterized by a cliché or elementary life lesson. This is not a desirable element in a complex story.
  • A theme is expressed as a complete thought not a single word. Ex. “ Love is a painful yet worthwhile experience in life.” NOT


viii irony
VIII. Irony

Irony is the contrast between appearance and reality.

  • Verbal Irony is the contrast between what is said and what is meant.
  • Dramatic Irony is the contrast between what the character says or does and what the reader knows to be true.
  • Situational Irony is the contrast between what is expected or intended to happen and what is actually happening.
ix mood and tone
IX. Mood and Tone
  • The mood of a story is an emotional feeling the story creates for the reader through the use of setting, situation, or description.
  • The tone of a story is the author’s attitude toward the subject (stated or implied). This attitude is conveyed through the choice of words and details. Ex. Pessimistic, humorous, serious
x symbolism
X. Symbolism
  • Symbolism is the use of an object or an idea to represent more than its literal meaning.
  • A literary symbol must be supported by repetition or context.
  • Two common types of symbolism are
      • Name symbolism – Ex. Jane Goodchild representing a virtuous and kind main character
      • Object symbolism – Ex. An apple could represent a computer, a good student, Sir Isaac Newton, or something forbidden.
xi chance vs coincidence
XI. Chance vs. Coincidence
  • A chance occurrence has no apparent cause and is completely random.
  • A coincidence is the occurrence of two events which have a peculiar and intriguing relationship.