2. SETTING – the time and place of the action in a story
Setting refers to the time and place in which a story takes place. It includes scenery, weather, clothing, furniture, and other elements associated with the period of time and geographical location. It also includes the social and political environment. Some settings are general and some are specific. Settings can help set the mood or atmosphere of a story. It can also provide important background. (This is especially important in historical fiction.) Occasionally a setting is used to symbolize an important theme of the story. In some works of literature, the setting is an integral part of the story; in others, it is not as important.
Questions to ask yourself about setting:
During what time period did this novel take place?
Where did the story take place?
Was the setting important to the story? Why?
Did the author do a good job describing the setting?
Were you able to visualize the story as it unfolded?
How much time does the story cover?
3. POINT OF VIEW – the position from which the story is told (as seen through
Point of view has to do with who tells the story; in other words, who is the
First-person narrator: one of the characters is telling the story. The
author uses the word “I” or “we” and their forms to refer to that character. The
first-person narrator can be the protagonist, someone who is close to the
protagonist, or a relatively unimportant character in the story.
THIRD-PERSON NARRATOR: None of the characters is telling the story.
The author uses the words “he,” “she,” “it,” or “they” and their forms to refer to
all of the characters. The third-person narrator can be either omniscient or
limited. If the narrator tells you everything about the story, we say that it is
an omniscient or all-knowing narrator.
THIRD-PERSON OMNICISCIENT: tells about the feelings, thoughts, and motives of all the characters. The author stands outside of the story and knows what each of the characters is doing or thinking at any given moment.
THIRD PERSON LIMITED: tells the story from the perspective of one of
4. TONE – the attitude of the author toward the subject or toward the reader
(think of “tone of voice” when someone is speaking).
5. MOOD – the feeling or state of mind that predominates in a story creating a
Theme is the general idea or point of a story. It provides a basic message about life. The theme is different from the subject of a story. The subject is the topic on which the story is based. The theme is the author’s expressed or implied opinion about that subject. For example, suppose an author writes about a family stranded on a desert island. The family is the subject of the story. The theme, however, might be the importance of family. Most works of fiction have at least one theme and may have more than one. An author can express his or her views in several ways. When trying to determine the theme of a story, think about other elements, such as character, plot, setting, and mood.
Questions to ask yourself to help you determine the theme:
How does the character change?
What makes the character change?
What lessons does the character learn?
What are the character’s feelings about things that happen?
a statement about life or human nature which the author seeks to prove through specific developments in the story
A theme cannot be described in one word. For example, suppose you were told that the theme of a particular book was “friendship.” There are many different themes that could be based upon friendship---some of them, such as the following two examples are contradictory:
You can always count on your friends for emotional support.
The idea of having friends is overvalued.\
Common subjects for themes: (Remember, however, that a theme should always be expressed in a complete sentence that expresses the author’s point of view!)
friendship education survival motherhood
fatherhood family poverty wealth
love hate prejudice life/death
laws/justice freedom honesty war/peace
homelessness patriotism land maturity/growing up
7. SYMBOLISM- Symbolism is the practice of using an object or a word to represent an abstract idea. An action, a person, a place, a word, or an object can all be symbols. When an author wants to suggest a certain mood or emotion, he can use symbolism to hint at it, rather than just saying it. Symbolism is often used by writers to enhance their writing,. Symbolism can give a literary work more richness, color, and depth.
A flat character is not fully developed. We see only one aspect of them.
A stereotype is a flat character with traits associated with a particular
class or group.
A stock character is a flat character meant to represent an entire class of
DYNAMIC OR STATIC CHARACTERS
A dynamic character grows or changes in an important way in the story.
A static character stays pretty much the same throughout the story, and
does not change.
CHARACTERIZATION: Characterization refers to the techniques an author uses to create and reveal the traits of the characters. Sometimes an author tells the readers directly about a character. Often, however, the reader must make inferences. How does the author use characterization to develop a character?
DIRECT: The author tells the reader about a character’s traits directly through the use of a narrative.
INDIRECT: Readers must infer the character’s traits....
from what the character says
from what the character does
from what the character thinks
from how the character looks
from what other characters say about him or her
from how other characters react to him or her
from what the narrator tells the reader about the character
Questions to ask yourself about the characters:
Were they interesting and believable?
Did you have a favorite character?
Why was this character special to you?
Did the author do a good job of creating the characters in this novel?
9. LITERARY TECHNIQUES
IRONY – events contrary to what is expected (Two types of irony are situational irony and verbal irony)
An author uses this technique to hint at something that will happen or something you will learn later in the book. The two main reasons to use foreshadowing are to build suspense and to prepare readers for what will happen and to make the story more believable.
FLASHBACK – a break in the continuity of the story to introduce an earlier
event. This is a technique an author uses to tell readers about an event
that happened before the current action in the story. The information
should be relevant to the main part of the story.
SUSPENSE – anxiety or apprehension resulting from uncertainty. An author creates suspense by putting a sympathetic character in danger. Sometimes the author gives the reader information that character does not have. Techniques an author can use to create suspense include a cliffhanger, foreshadowing, imagery, and careful word choice.
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE (simile, metaphor, personification)
10. PLOT– the story line; a unified, progressive pattern of actions or events in a
Beginning of the story:
EXPOSITION – At the beginning of the story, the author usually provides important information about the setting and the main characters. This information helps readers understand the story and is called the expos-ition.
Middle of the Story: Rising Action, Climax, and Falling Action
The protagonists, or main characters, encounter several conflicts in this section, including a central conflict or problem. Without conflict of some sort, there would be no plot.
INCITING CAUSE – the event that begins and motivates the action in a story How does the story get started? What is the initial incident that starts the story?
CENTRAL CONFLICT – the main struggle of opposing forces around which the plot revolves
Internal Conflict – occurs when one is confronted with a problem that presents difficult choices involving one’s beliefs and values (Person vs. Self – internal struggle)
External Conflict – occurs when one faces someone else of some situation that is working against one’s own desires or goals (Person vs. Person, Person vs. Society, Person vs. Beast, Person vs. The Elements or Forces of Nature, Person vs. Fate or Destiny, Person vs. Machine)
RISING ACTION – events that build up the plot and lead to the climax. The rising action comprises all of the events that rise from the conflict. These events describe the roadblocks to the solving of the problem.
THE CLIMAX – (the turning point)
- the critical point in the story which changes the course of events
- the point in a story where the main character faces a crisis and must
make a crucial decision that will effect the outcome
- the moment at which the story reaches the greatest conflict.
- events that unwind the plot and lead to resolving the conflict
- the events that follow the conflict
End of the Story: DENOUEMENT (RESOLUTION) – ties up all the loose ends, answers any lingering questions
Questions to ask yourself about plot:
Was the author able to hold your interest throughout the novel?
How did he or she manage to do this?
Which were your favorite scenes in the novel?
What changes, if any, would you have made in the plot?
Conflict is the struggle between two forces. It results when the main character or protagonist encounters a problem --- a force which may prevent him or her from achieving a goal. There are five basic types of conflict, each involving a different type of obstacle or antagonist.