Fable: brief, moral, flat characters, simple


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  • fable:

    • brief, moral, flat characters, simple

    • plot & theme over character

  • tale:

    • means “speech”

    • brief, strange events, bare summary, flat characters

    • plot & theme over character


      • terse, general narration

      • skipping ahead, jumping time

      • “and it came to pass” “then one day” “it wasn’t long before”

  • tall tale:

    • folk story, recount of superhero or narrator’s imaginary experience -bragging, told straight-faced, scoffed at by audience

  • fairy tale:

    • magical world (witches, goblins), by/for uneducated

  • fable & parable:

    • didactic, to instruct, to shape the thoughts & behaviors of the audience, to set forth a truth @ our world/condition

    • tied to the oral tradition



TALE, Fable, Parable

  • made to seem real

  • Plot & Theme

  • more Characterization, Setting

  • more than Summary – description (realism)

  • longer

  • tied to a Written Tradition

  • made to seem imaginative, unreal

  • Plot & Theme

  • less Characterization, Setting

  • Summary

  • brief

  • tied to the Oral Tradition

  • made to seem real (as opposed to imaginative, fake, unreal, just a story)

    • development of characters, scenes, setting

  • character development

  • more than summary

    • scene description – made to seem real, historical, actual

    • show rather than tell

  • setting development


    • locale, geographical area

    • historical era

    • customs of people

    • season of the year

  • longer, more detailed, more realistic, more than just Plot/Theme

Development of the Short Story

  • fable, parable, tale = ancient story forms, tied to oral tradition

  • short story = relatively recent development

  • 19th century:

    • (high literacy rate among middle-class)

    • large number of literate

    • middle class readers

    • who want a faithful representation of their ordinary middle-class life

      • (Americans seemed less “faithful representation” & more “fantasy”)

    • Russia – Anton Chekhov
    • France – Honore de Balzac, Gustav Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant

    • America – Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe

Types of stories


  • romance, science fiction, Westerns, horror, mystery, detective, Christian, fantasy,…


  • legendary stories typically concerning ancient cultures

  • told with the express purpose to explain the mysteries of human existence (life, death, after-life, creation);

  • imaginary characters (dragons, gods, faeries, humans with super-human powers)


  • lengthy stories told to relate the heroic deeds of semi-historic (half-real, half-imaginary) persons in a culture’s past (Norwegian)

  • epic: poetry:: saga: fiction


  • a short story

  • told for a lesson

  • more educational

  • moral over characterization

  • lessons =

    • Biblical/eschatological (although not necessarily)

    • timeless, universal


  • short, moralistic story

  • edifying, cautionary tale

  • often with animal characters (personified)


  • highly symbolic story - told for a lesson

  • characters & actions represent abstractions

    • truths, generalizations (biblical, universal, human existence/condition)
  • representation of abstractions by characters, objects, events


  • like a saga, this is a fictional story based on a real-life person;

  • fictionalized, dramatized, heightened, depicted larger-than-life


  • imaginary tales connected to the oral tradition, resembles real-life (ordinary people, day-to-day life)

Fairy tale:

  • “faery” tale; imaginary stories with fairies

Tall Tale:

  • short, imaginary, and (most importantly) exaggerated story told for its humor


  • short scene within a larger work; sometimes gives insight into a character


  • long short story; between a short story & a novel


  • stories meant to attack the foibles or evils of society


  • “novel with a key” depicting real life behind a thin guise of fiction (satire); actual persons & events thinly disguised


  • novel of education, coming-of-age story; similar to “story of initiation”

story of initiation”:
    • initiation of a character into experience or maturity

    • (“coming of age” or “bildungsroman”)



    • the teller of the story

    • persona

    • NOT to be confused with the author

      • the opinions, attitudes, beliefs of a Narrator do not necessarily belong to the Author, too

    • Types of Narrators:

      • naïve observer (child, i.e.)

      • unreliable narrator (compromised reliability – due to mental disease, bias, ignorance, or deliberate deception)

      • omniscient (knows all characters’ thoughts, feelings)

      • limited omniscient (knows a few, usually one more than others)

      • stream-of-consciousness (random flow of character’s thoughts)

      • interior dialogue (structured presentation, as opposed to stream-of-consciousness)


      • the perspective from which a story is presented or interpreted

      • the vantage point, the viewpoint

      • marked by levels of knowledge, insight, involvement

      • 1st person = (“I” or “we”) from a character’s perspective; told from the perspective of one who experienced it (*narrator = participant within the story*)

      • 2nd person = “you” (rare) from the reader’s perspective
      • 3rd person = (“he/she” or “they”) from the observer’s perspective; limited or complete omniscience; objective or judgmental (*narrator = non-participant*)

  • PLOT:

    • the story, the action

    • the totality of a story’s events, the unified whole

    • “open plot”: conflict = not resolved at the end

    • “closed plot”: conflict = resolved at the end

    • ExpositionRising Action (Complication)ClimaxFalling ActionDenouement

    • SUBPLOT:

      • a secondary (sometimes parallel) plot that coexists with the main plot (Gloucester in Lear)

  • Exposition:

    • the background of the story

    • the setting forth of characterization, the basic situation

    • the introduction of characters

      • Protagonist vs. Antagonist

      • Flat, Round, Stock characters

  • Complication:

    • a twist, turn of events

    • makes things more complex, difficult

    • the introduction into the plot of something or someone who causes difficulty

    • an intensification of the Conflict (s)

  • Crisis:

    • Conflict

      • struggle between opposing forces

      • creates tension, suspense in the story

      • problems, antagonisms, arguments, resistance, effort, clashes, impediments/obstacles to goals/desires

      • single or several

      • levels of conflict

      • rises in tension

      • resolved at end

      • (determines the Plot)

      • internal:

        • person vs. self

      • external:

        • person vs. person

        • person vs. nature

        • person vs. god, supernatural, technology

        • person vs. society

    • Suspense

      • the heightening of emotion, tension

      • due to uncertainty, doubt

      • not knowing what’s going to happen next

      • “the turning of the screw”

    • Foreshadowing

      • hints at what’s to come

      • indicates, suggests what is going to happen

      • often seen upon re-reading

    • Flashback

      • a break in the linear progression of a story

      • nonlinear chronology

      • a look back at what happened before, at some point in the past

    • in medias res

      • when a story starts “in the middle” of a situation

  • Climax:

    • the most important or exciting moment of the story

    • the point of highest tension, emotion, excitement

    • the Turning Point

      • (if this is the highest point of tension, then it’s all downhill from here)

      • between the Climax and the Denouement = the FALLING ACTION

      • between the Exposition and the Climax = the RISING ACTION

  • epiphany:

    • “to show forth”

    • a moment of insight, revelation, discovery

    • by which a character’s life or view of life is greatly altered

  • Denouement:

    • Resolution, Conclusion

    • the unraveling of the Plot, of the Complication/Conflict

McGraw-Hill’s Glossary of Fiction Terms < http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072405228/student_view0/fiction_glossary.html >

The Literary Encyclopedia: < http://www.litencyc.com/php/showgrouparticles.php?articlegroupid=7 >
Gustav Freytag’s Pyramid: < http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~hartleyg/ref/freytag.html >

& < http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/freytag.html >


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