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Five Elements of Fiction
Transcript of Five Elements of Fiction
Definition of Plot: Events that form a significant pattern of action with a beginning, a middle and an end. They move from one place or event to another in order to form a pattern, usually with the purpose of overcoming a conflict. The plot is more formally called a narrative.
The people in the story who carry out the action
Plot usually involves one or more conflicts, which are problems that need to be solved.
4 Major Types:
Man's struggle against nature.
Man against man.
Man against society.
Man against himself (inner struggle).
The theme is a recurring social or psychological issue, like aging, violence, alienation or maturity. The author or poet weaves the theme into the plot, which is used as a vehicle to convey it. The title of the story or poem is often of significance in recognizing the theme.
Setting is defined as the physical location and the time of a story. In short stories, one or both of these elements are often not defined.
(Incentive Moment & Episodes)
(Resolusion or Denouement)
Frequently involves dilemma. e.g. Caught in a bad situation with a choice in a boating accident, you can save either your mother or your husband from drowning.
Foreshadowing: The outcome of a conflict is often hinted at or "foreshadowed" before the climax and resolution. These clues are usually very subtle; you don't realize they are foreshadowing clues until you've finished the story. Early on in the novel Lord of the Flies, the boys roll a rock down from the light of the hill into the murky jungle below. The destruction of the foliage is a symbolic hint at what's to come: the boys' descent into savagery and destruction.
The author waits until the story is moving and then flashes back to reveal biographical data or deep psychological reasons why a character acts as s/he does. It focuses more on why things happen, rather than on what happens.
It's a matter of economy. The author can't describe every motion of the character or event during the time the story covers. S/he has to choose the significant and merely suggest the others by saying they happened, without much description. Art attempts verisimilitude, not "reality."
Perception of reality - The quality of seeming real.
In Literature: Likeness or semblance of a narrative to reality, or to the truth
Characters Revealed by Setting
Physical objects surround characters in different ways and these differences reveal traits and changes in characters.
Psychologically, spiritually, economically and physically.
Observe feelings and actions of characters with respect to their surroundings; as setting changes, often so does character.
Listen for any remarks characters make about their setting.
Look for clues to characters in objects they have placed in their physical world.
Setting Revealed by Characters
Characters contribute clues about setting.
When time isn't made obvious, the reader can often make inferences from objects a character has placed in the setting
Dress and dialect contain clues as to historical period in which events take place, as well as to regional setting and social levels within a region.
Plot Assisted by Setting
Some stories or plots can take place only in certain settings. Actions governed by particular customs and mores.
Traditions established over many generations exert great influence on what characters do.
Physical nature also creates conditions that affect plot: setting can confine action as, for example, on the sea, or on a mountaintop.
The mood is reliant on the words and tone of description; a jingle can be light, full of life, and exciting, or, dark, foreboding, and full of evil.
The setting of a Victorian drawing room elicits an atmosphere of restraint and decorum.
Atmosphere can be overdrawn (as in many Harlequin romances) and become gooey with manufactured emotion.
Time Revealed by Setting
Some authors skillfully use atmosphere to introduce and reinforce the theme of the novel; what happens in setting (flood) happens to characters (changed course of action).
Setting may reveal how man sees nature, they may show hate, agony, courage, etc. or men's struggle for insignificant things.
Aspects of Setting
Physical World in which Characters Live
1) Geographical location, topography, scenery, even the arrangement of objects in a room can carry special significance. Note
2) Spot words that ask you to hear, see and feel elements that make up and strengthen
awareness of physical setting.
What is a Theme?
The unifying or central concept of a story.
It's a theory of life which acts as the unifying force in a story, or the universal truth which the story illustrates.
In most stories it's not just a simple moral, which is usually what an author thinks about the theme.
The simplest way of defining theme is this: it is the description of the basic challenges of mankind (e.g. "the human condition").
Identifying a Story's Theme
1) Start with a clear idea of the character's situation and the plot.
Why did the characters act as they did?
2) Examine closely the central conflict. Overcoming a conflict is often the basis of the recurrent human challenge in the theme.
3) Look closely at the events and/or characters that seem relevant to the main line of action.
Why are they included?
Five Elements of Fiction
The series of events in a narrative is called plot.
At the heart of any plot is a conflict, or struggle, between opposing forces.
Introduces setting and character
Introduces the conflict
Presents complications that intensify the conflict
Is the turning point and the moment of greatest suspense
Makes the outcome of the conflict clear
Eases the suspense
Reveals the outcome of the story's climax
Shows how the main character resolves the conflict
Reveals the final outcome
Ties up loose ends
What does it do?
Interrupts the main action to describe earlier events
Shows how past events led up to the present situation
Provides background information about a character or event
How can I recognize it?
Look for possible clues words and phrases, such as "that summer," "as a young boy," "her earliest memories."
Keep track of the chronological order of events so that you will be aware of events that interrupt this order.
What does it do?
Prepares readers for events that come later - often in the climax or the resolution
Makes readers eager to keep reading
What is it?
An account of a conversation, episode, or event that happened before the beginning of the story, or at an earlier point.
What is it?
A writer's use of hints or clues in early scenes to suggest events that will occur later.
How can I recognize it?
Pay attention to repeated or emphasized ideas and descriptions.
Notice when characters make important statements or behave in unusual ways.
Internal vs. External Conflict
An INTERNAL conflict is a struggle within the character's mind. The struggle usually centers on a choice or decision the character must make.
An EXTERNAL conflict is a clash between a character and an outside force, such as another character, society, or a force of nature. Will the athlete defeat her bitter rival? Can the soldiers endure the war?
Should she tell the truth?
Can he overcome his jealousy?
Will the athlete defeat her bitter rival?
Can the soldiers endure the war?
What's PLOT again?
The series of events in a narrative.
The SETTING of a story is the
Time & Place
in which the action occurs
Role of Setting
Setting can influence characters by:
determining the living conditions and jobs available to them
shaping their personalities, their dreams, and their values
Setting can create conflicts by:
exposing the characters to dangerous weather, such as a storm or a drought
making characters endure a difficult time period, such as the Great Depression
Setting can serve as a symbol by:
representing an important idea
representing a character's hopes, future, or predicament
IMAGERY consists of vivid descriptions that recreate sensory experiences for readers.
SENSORY LANGUAGE - words and phrases that appeal to the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch - to help you visualize the scene.
A writer can also use imagery and setting to create the MOOD, or atmosphere, of a story.
MOOD can affect your emotional reaction to the characters and events.
But we have added more types of CONFLICT
The protagonist resists technological forces (external)
The protagonist battles forces that are not of this world (external)
Person vs. Technology
Person vs. Supernatural