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Ms. Elmore's 7th Grade Language Arts

Elements of a Story

Literary Concepts – Elements of a Story


1. PLOT – the story line; a unified, progressive pattern of action or events in a story

2. SETTING – the time and place of the action in a story

3. TONE – the attitude of the author toward his subject or toward the reader (Think of tone of voice when someone is talking.)

4. MOOD – the feeling or state of mind that predominates in a story creating a certain atmosphere

5. CHARACTER – person portraying himself or another

6. POINT OF VIEW – the position from which the story is told (as seen through whose eyes?)

  • PERSONAL (if told as seen through the eyes of one of the characters in the story)
  • OMNISCIENT (if  the author stands outside of the story and knows what each of the characters is doing or thinking at any given moment) 

7. CENTRAL CONFLICT – the main struggle of opposing forces around which the plot revolves

Internal Conflict

Inner 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

External conflict occurs when one faces someone else or some situation that is working against one’s own desires or goals.

A. PERSON  vs. PERSONB. PERSON  vs. SOCIETY

C. PERSON  vs. BEAST

D. PERSON  vs. THE ELEMENTS (forces of nature)

E. PERSON  vs. FATE or DESTINY

F. PERSON  vs. MACHINE

8. PROTAGONIST – the main character (usually the hero of the story)

9. ANTAGONIST – the rival (the bad guy)

10. THEME –

  • the main idea or message of the story;
  • its generalized meaning;
  • a statement about life or human nature which the author seeks to prove through specific developments of the story

11. IRONY – events contrary to what is expected

12. FORESHADOW – a hint or clue to future events in the story 

13. FLASHBACK – a break in the continuity of a story to introduce an earlier event

14. INCITING CAUSE – the event that begins and motivates the action in the story

15. RISING ACTION – events that build up the plot and lead to the climax

16. CLIMAX – (the turning point)

  • the critical point in the story which changes the course of events
  • the point in the story where the main character faces a crisis and must make a crucial decision that will effect the outcome of the story.

17. FALLING ACTION – events that unwind the plot and lead to resolving the conflict

18. RESOLUTION – the event in a story that resolves the conflict

19. FICTION – written from the imagination; not true

20. NON-FICTION – true; based upon actual fact

21. GENRE – kind or type of art or literature

22. SUSPENSE – anxiety or apprehension resulting from uncertainty


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