Antagonist: The character who works against the protagonist in the story--The “Bad Guy”
Atmosphere: The overall mood or feeling of a work of literature; How the story is supposed to make the reader feel
Author: The writer of a literary work or document
Autobiography (genre): A person’s account of his or her own life or of part of it.
Ballad (genre): A song or song-like poem that tells a story.
Biography (genre): An account of a person’s life or of part of it, written or told by another person.
Character: A person or an animal in a story, a play, or another literary work.
static character: a character who does not change much in the course of a story.
dynamic character: a character who changes as a result of the events in a story.
Characterization: The way a writer reveals the personality of a character
1. through the words of a character
2. through description of the character’s looks and clothing
3. through description of the character’s thoughts and feelings
4. through the comments made about the character by other characters in the story
5. through the actions and behavior of a character
6. through the narrator’s direct description
Chronological Order: the arrangement of events in the order in which they occurred.
Climax: The point in a story that creates the greatest suspense or interest
Comedy (genre): In general, a story that ends happily for its main characters
Conflict: A struggle between opposing characters or opposing forces
external conflict: a character struggles with an outside force (another character, nature, etc.)
internal conflict: takes place in a character’s own mind (emotions, needs, decisions)
Connotation: A meaning, association, or emotion suggested by a word, in addition to its dictionary definition (denotation)
Denotation: A word’s dictionary definition
Description: Writing intended to re-create a person, a place, a thing, an event, or an experience
Dialect: A way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain geographical area or a certain group of people
ex. Canadians sometimes sound like they say “oot and aboot” rather than “out and about”
Dialogue: conversation between two or more characters
Diction: A writer’s or speaker’s choice of words
Drama (genre): A work of literature meant to be performed for an audience by actors and actresses
NOTE: Technically, drama is not the same as what happens in the middle school cafeteria.
Essay (genre): A short piece of non-fiction prose that examines a single subject
Exaggeration: Overstating something, usually for the purpose of creating a comic effect
Exposition (genre): The kind of writing that explains or gives information
Fable (genre): A brief story told in prose or poetry that contains a moral, a practical lesson about how to get along in life
Fiction (genre): A prose account that is made up rather than true (usually refers to novels and short stories)
Figure of Speech: A word or phrase that describes one thing in terms of another and is not meant to be understood as literally true (metaphor, simile, personification)
Flashback: Interruption in the present action of a plot to show events that happened at an earlier time
Folk Tale (genre): A story that has no known author and was originally passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth
Foreshadowing: the use of clues or hints to suggest events that will take place later in the plot
Free Verse: Poetry without a regular meter or rhyme scheme
Genre: A distinctive type or category of literary composition, such as the epic, tragedy, comedy, short story, and novel
Historical Fiction (genre): A novel, story, or play set during a real historical era (ex. My Brother Sam is Dead)
Hyperbole: An exaggeration
Idiom: An expression peculiar to a particular language that means something different from the literal meaning of the words (“Hold your tongue” means Don’t Speak)
Imagery: Descriptive language that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste)
Irony: A contrast between expectation and reality
verbal irony: involves a contrast between what is said and what is meant (ex. sarcasm)
situational irony: occurs when what happens is very different from what is expected
dramatic irony: occurs when the reader knows something a character does not know
Legend (genre): A story of extraordinary deeds that is handed down from one generation to the next
Lyric Poem (genre): A poem that expresses the feelings or thoughts of a speaker rather than telling a story
Metamorphosis: A miraculous change from one shape or form to another
Metaphor: An imaginative comparison between two unlike things in which one thing is said to be another thing
ex. Mr. Sipior was a snail in the race.
Mood: See “Atmosphere”
Motivation: The reasons a character behaves in a certain way
Myth (genre): A story that explains something about the world and typically involves gods or other supernatural forces
Narration (genre): The type of writing that tells a story
Narrator: The voice that tells a story--In a work of fiction, the narrator determines the point of view
Nonfiction (genre): prose writing that deals with real people, things, events and places
Novel (genre): A long fictional story whose length is usually between one-hundred and five-hundred pages
Objective Writing (genre): Writing that presents facts without revealing the writer’s feelings and thoughts
Onomatopoeia: The use of words whose sounds imitate or suggest their meaning
ex. boom, bang, zoom, tweet, bark
Personification: A figure of speech in which an object or animal is spoken of as if it had human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes
Persuasion (genre): A kind of writing intended to convince a reader to think or act in a certain way
Playwright: The author of a play or drama
Plot: The series of related events that make up a story
exposition: tells us who the characters are and usually what the conflict is
rising action: complications that arise when the characters take steps to resolve the conflict
climax: the most exciting moment in the story, when the outcome is decided one way or another
resolution: the conflict resolved and the story is brought to a close
Poetry (genre): A kind of rhythmic, compressed language that uses figures of speech and imagery designed to appeal to our emotions and imagination
Point of View: The vantage point from which a story is told
- omniscient (all-knowing) point of view: The narrator knows everything about the characters and their problems. The all-knowing narrator can tell us about the past, present, and future of the characters. The narrator can also tell us what the characters are thinking, but the narrator does not take part in the story’s action.
- third-person limited point of view: The narrator only focuses on the thoughts and feelings of one character. We observe the action through the eyes of only one of the characters of the story.
- first-person point of view: One of the characters, using the personal pronoun “I” tells the story. All we see and know is through the narrator’s eyes and brain. The narrator might be unreliable.
Prose (genre): Any writing that is not poetry.
Protagonist: The main character in a work of literature--The “Good Guy”
Repetition: When a phrase or theme is use over and over again; This is normally done for the purpose of emphasis.
Rhyme: The repetition of accented vowel sounds and all sounds following them in words that are close together in a poem.
Satire (genre): Writing that ridicules something, often in order to bring about change.
Setting: The time and place of a story, play or narrative poem. Also included is any major historical event serving as a backdrop to the story.
Short Story (genre): A short, fictional prose narrative
Simile: A comparison between two unlike things using a word such as like, as, than, or resembles.
Speaker: The voice talking to us in a poem
Stanza: A group of consecutive lines in a poem that form a single unit. The poetry version of a paragraph
Stereotype: A fixed idea about the members of a particular group of people that does not allow for any individuality.
Style: The way a writer uses language
Subjective Writing (genre): Writing in which the feelings and opinions of the writer are revealed
Suspense: The uncertainty or anxiety that a reader feels about what will happen next in a story
Symbol: A person, a place, a thing, or an event that has meaning in itself and stands for something beyond itself as well.
Tall Tale (genre): An exaggerated, far-fetched story that is obviously untrue but is told as though it should be believed
Theme: The general idea or insight about life that a work of literature reveals; the dominant idea of a work of literature
Tone: The attitude a writer takes towards his or her subject, characters, and audience
Tragedy (genre): A play, novel, or other narrative in which the main character comes to an unhappy end.
Tragic Flaw: A character weakness that brings about the downfall of the protagonist
Understatement: A statement that says less than what is meant