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Story Elements and Techniques

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Ellen Cavanaugh

on 29 November 2016

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Transcript of Story Elements and Techniques

Don't steal a woman's purse when she's walking home from work. She will beat you up and kidnap you.
Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Occurs at the beginning of the story. It
the setting, introduces the characters, explains background, and introduces the characters’ main conflict.

As you view this video clip,
identify the setting, main
characters, and conflicts.
The series of events, such as the conflicts, and complications, that lead to a story's climax.
Rising Action
Narrative Text Structure
A struggle between a
character and another
physical force, such
as another character
or a natural disaster.
External Conflict
Man versus self
Man versus society
Conflict - A struggle between two opposing forces
Internal Conflict
A mental or emotional struggle that occurs within a character.
1. What is Cinderella’s initial conflict?
2. How does she try to resolve it?
How does her effort complicate the
situation even more?
Characters try to resolve their conflict but their action makes it even worse by causing even bigger problems.
Three things typically happen here.
What clues hint that this is the
highest point of the story’s action?
Climax - From Walt Disney’s Cinderella
The events that follow the story’s climax. These events lead to the story’s resolution.
Falling Action
Man versus nature
Man versus man
Man versus nature
Hint: Think about the change in music
and the facial expressions of the characters
in the scene.
This happens at the end of the story when all conflicts have been resolved and we know what is going to happen to the people in the story.
As you view this video clip,
fill out your Story Mapping worksheet.
This worksheet will be collected
at the end of class.
As you view the rest
of this clip, try to identify
the resolution.
Character &

Types of character:
A character who does not change or learn a new lesson during the story.
A character who changes (on the inside) during the story.
A character who is developed enough to seem real or life-like. This type of character has 2+ traits.
The character usually changes after they resolve a major conflict by learning the
A character who is not developed enough to seem
"real" or life-like. This type of character has 1 trait.
A struggle between a character and another physical force, such as another character or a natural disaster.
External Conflict
Internal Conflict
A mental or emotional
struggle that occurs within
a character.
Other examples of internal conflicts:
How does the author
enhance the

The feeling of uncertainty or anxiety, which an author instills in a reader, as he/she questions the outcome of events.
How does an AUTHOR create it?!
How is suspense created in this clip?

As you watch, jot down notes to answer this question.
Speeding up the action.
: Giving hints or clues as to what might happen later.
Dangerous actions or events
: Having a main character face bodily harm, firsthand.
As you watch this next clip. Take note of how the suspense is created. Does the director use foreshadowing, dangerous actions/events, pacing, or all three?
Verbal Irony
Situational Irony
Dramatic Irony
(Saracasm) When a character says
one thing but means another.
When we expect one thing to happen, but then the opposite (or something completely unexpected) does.
This occurs when the audience knows something that characters in the story do not know.
While watching this clip,
answer the following:
1. What does the character say?
2. What does the character mean?
While watching this clip,
answer the following:
1. What do we expect?
2. What actually happens?
While watching this clip,
answer the following:
1. What do we know that the character does not know?
Point of View
First Person
Third Person Omniscient
Third Person Limited
-Is a character in the story.
-Tells only their thoughts, emotions, conflicts, etc.
Key Words:
I, me, we, us, our
-Not a character within the story
-Tells the story by expressing the thought process, emotions, and decisions of
only one
character within the story.
-Not a character in the story
-Tells the story by expressing the thoughts, emotions, and decisions of many/all main characters in the story.
Key words: She, he, her, him, they, their, them
While watching these clips, decide from which point of view they are narrated.

A statement that teaches the reader a lesson about human nature or life in general.
The author doesn’t typically tell us the theme. It is usually implied. We have to figure out what it is!
What is the life lesson of this story?
How can I figure out the theme of a story??
What is the message that the author is
trying to convey?
What is the big idea?
What universal lesson can you draw from
this story and apply to your own life?
Often, a
character must learn this lesson in order to undergo change.
As you watch this clip, identify the theme.
What life lesson is the author trying to teach?
Authors can use different literary elements
such as character development, irony,
and figurative language to create different themes.

Example: Richard Connell, the author of
The Most Dangerous Game used situational
irony to emphasize one of the many messages
of his short story.
In the beginning of the story, Rainsford judges
Zaroff based on his manners and intellect. He
views Zaroff as a generous host. However, after
finding out that Zaroff is the exact opposite of what he expected (situational irony), he changes his opinion.
Through use of situational irony, the author is
trying to teach the theme:

"appearances can be deceiving"
Through his use of irony,
what theme is O'Flaherty
trying to convey?
Through characterization,
what theme is O'Flaherty
trying to convey?
Through his use of figurative language,
what theme is O'Flaherty trying to convey?
What themes are present
in The Sniper??
Themes are
This means that all readers
can identify or relate to these
lessons in some way.
What themes are present
in Dahl's Lamb to the Slaughter?

What devices (characterization, figurative language, irony) does the author use to convey these messages? (Use my MDG example as a template.)
What is a symbol?
What is the purpose of signs/symbols/logos?
An object that represents an idea.
Authors use symbols to send implicit (hidden) messages to readers.
Symbols are shortcuts that authors use so that they don't have to spend time explaining these messages. They assume that readers can make meaning on their own.
Description that creates mental pictures/images in the readers' mind while reading.
By triggering the five senses
2) Smell
3) Taste
4) Touch
5) Hear
The clay oozed between Jeremy's fingers as he let out a squeal of pure glee.
Tumbling through the ocean water after being overtaken by the monstrous wave, Mark unintentionally took a gulp of the briny, bitter mass, causing him to cough and gag.
Peter's socks, still soaked with sweat from Tuesday's P.E. class, filled the classroom with an aroma akin to that of salty, week-old, rotting fish.
Paola's eyes were endless pools of beauty.
Authors will also often use figurative language to create sensory images (imagery):

machine guns and rifles broke the silence of the night, spasmodically, like dogs barking on lone farms.
What does the blackbird symbolize? What message (theme) is McCartney trying to convey through this symbol?
What is imagery?
Why would the author want to incorporate imagery?
To make readers feel as though they are in the story. To get them more interested in the plot.
1) See
“Look what I shot.” Gale holds up a loaf of bread with an arrow stuck in it, and I laugh. I take it in my hands, pull out the arrow, and hold the puncture in the crust to my nose, inhaling the fragrance that makes my mouth flood with saliva. Fine bread like this is for special occasions.

“Mm, still warm,” I say.
He tosses a berry in a high arc toward me. I catch it in my mouth and break the delicate skin with my teeth. The sweet tartness explodes across my tongue.
The stew doesn’t taste bad, but there’s a certain sliminess that’s hard to get around. Like you have to swallow every bite three times before it really goes down.
…the second knife catches me in the forehead. It slices above my right eyebrow, opening a gash that sends a gush running down my face, blinding my eye, filling my mouth with the sharp, metallic taste of my own blood.
How can an author help readers create mental images?
While listening to the song, identify specific lyrics that help you to create mental images.

Which of your senses does this song engage?
1. The reader is the most emotionally involved in the story.
-The reader might be happy, sad, excited, or terrified.
2. The action is at its highest point.
-A war or fight may be at its deadliest stage.
3. The story is at its turning point.
-A character might undergo change after learning an important life-lesson.
Climax Activity
Complete the worksheet as you view the following videos.
More examples...
View the following video clips. As you do,complete the Complication worksheet.
What is a character?
An individual (person, animal, etc.,) in a story.
What is characterization?
How the author develops characters or makes them "come to life" by giving them personality
How do authors do characterize?
Direct Characterization
Indirect Characterization
The author or a character in the story
tells us the character's
We learn about the character's

them based on their actions, thoughts, and conversations with other characters.
What are personality
Make an illustration of yourself. Label it with your
. Are you hard working? Happy? Friendly? Jealous?
The storyteller.
The main character
The person/thing that the
struggles against.
A theme is a
about life or people in general.
Themes are always
and never just one word.
Circle the
in your notes.
qualities or characteristics that make people or things different from one another.
How Can I Find the THEME?
Step 1
Figure out who the
Step 2
Figure out what his/her
Roger vs. $$ - Roger wants blue suede shoes but doesn't have the $$ to buy them.
Step 3
Figure out the
the character had to learn to
Ask for help when you need it. The kindness of others will surprise you.

How can we check to make sure this is the theme?
1. Is it more than one word?
2. Have I learned it in my life, too?
How can we change it to make it better?
-Make it less specific. -Cut out the plot.
-Leave the lesson.
1. Is it more than one word?
2. Have I learned it in my life, too?
This is the theme.
-Reader can not trust narrator. Because the narrator is directly involved in the action, reader never knows whether or not narrator is telling the truth. Narrator could be lying to make him/herself look better.
-Reader gets a first hand report of conflicts and complications as they occur.
-Allows reader to get inside character's mind to understand thoughts, feelings, emotions, conflicts.
-Reader learns about events as character does.
-Only get thoughts/emotions of one character. Story may be biased (one sided).

Key words: he, she, they, their, his, hers
-This point of view is most trust worthy. Reader is told the thoughts of many characters. Therefore, reader experiences most/all sides of the story, conflicts, events.
-Author cannot use as much suspense/irony because reader knows too much.
How could they do this to me? I wasn't even there when it happened? I was picking my little sister up from school. I don't understand...and they won't even listen to my story.
This guy has every reason be upset...
Officer Jacobs thought to himself as he pinned his arms back. Jacobs knew that he didn't meet the profile of the man who committed the crime. He remembered witnesses saying that the criminal was at least 6', 250lbs, with long dreads, and a scar over his left eye. But the chief asked for a body so Jacobs and his partners grabbed this guy because they saw him hanging out near the crime scene...too bad.
Officer Johnson didn't know who to believe as he dragged a screaming man away from the scene of the crime. It wouldn't be the first mistake the Fayetville PD had made, and unfortunately, it probably wouldn't be the last.
John knew that he had to play the part of the innocent man. If he did a good job acting, the cops might buy in and actually hear out his story. Then, he'd be free for sure.
Gary made sure not to make eye contact with John. If the cops noticed anything suspicious, their plan might be ruined and then they'd both miss out on 10 million dollars and a shot at a much sweeter life...
Like evil villains, all narratives have a
What is
The main events in a story.
View the following clip. It will introduce you to four very different characters. Draw portraits of each. Then, identify each character's traits (both physical and emotional).
Identifying Traits
Practice Activity
Full transcript