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Literary Elements & Techniques Notes

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Kara Spaeth

on 2 December 2014

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Transcript of Literary Elements & Techniques Notes

Learning Goal:
You will be able to analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact, as well as determine a theme in a piece of literature.
You will be able to identify & explain examples of sensory details, figurative language and basic literary techniques in fiction and nonfiction grade-level text, in particular hyperbole, imagery, & propaganda.

Literary Elements & Techniques
photo (cc) Malte Sörensen @ flickr
Literary Elements are the parts that make up a story.
Literary techniques are devices used in writing which are intended to create a special effect or feeling.
Use of an extreme exaggeration to get a message across.
"I've told you a million times."
"I've got a TON of homework."
"I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse."
Watch the video & write down as many examples of hyperbole that you catch!
Hyperbole Examples
Imagery is language that appeals to the 5 senses: touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. It is mental pictures evoked through use of similes, metaphors, and sensory language
He fumed and charged like an angry bull.
He fell down like an old tree falling down in a storm.
The eerie silence was shattered by her scream.
The lake was left shivering by the touch of the morning wind.
The word spread like leaves in a storm.
Her blue eyes were the sky, radiant and bright.
Imagery Examples:
Methods used to make arguments more persuasive.
There are many different methods of propaganda including:
appeal to ignorance - suggests that if a claim has not been proven false, it must be true.
bandwagon - promotes the idea that if everyone does it or believes it, it must be right.
broad generalization - claims something to be true for all members of a group.
loaded words - uses emotionally charged words to produce strong positive or negative reactions.
oversimplification - makes complicated issues seem simple to solve.
red herring - changes the subject to distract from the real argument.
straw man - dismisses the other side of the argument as ridiculous.
Watch the video clip about some different types of propaganda methods. As you watch the different examples, write down how the advertisements work to appeal to their audience.
Propaganda Examples
An object that holds a figurative meaning as well as its literal meaning
Something that stands for something else – a representation of an abstract meaning
Anything can be a symbol
Plot is what happens and how it happens in a narrative.
A narrative is any work that tells a story, such as a short story, a novel, a drama, or a narrative poem.
A secondary story within the main story that usually takes place between supporting characters.
Sometimes called the “B” or “C” story.
Parts of Plot
– Introduction of the setting and characters
Inciting incident
– event that gives rise to conflict (opening situation)
Rising Action
- events that occur as result of central conflict, these build up to the climax
- highest point of interest or suspense of story
Falling Action
– The events after the story – we see how the climax affects the main characters
- rounds out the story & concludes the action

Plot Diagram
Special Techniques of Plot
- excitement or tension
- hint or clue about what will happen in story
- interrupts the normal sequence of events to tell about something that happened in the past
urprise Ending
- conclusion that reader does not expect
Time and place are where the action occurs
Details that describe:
Time of day
Time of year

Functions of a Setting
To create a mood (feeling created in the reader through the text)
To show a reader a different way of life
To make action seem more real
To be the source of conflict or struggle
To symbolize an idea
Types of Characters
People or animals
Major characters
Minor characters
Round characters
Characters who you really get to know – who develop & change over time; usually the main character
Flat characters
Characters who we don’t get to know as well; they don’t really change over the course of the story; usually supporting characters

(Inciting Incident)
We left the home place behind, mile by slow mile, heading for the mountains, across the prairie where the wind blew forever.
At first there were four of us with one horse wagon and its skimpy load. Pa and I walked, because I was a big boy of eleven. My two little sisters romped and trotted until they got tired and had to be boosted up to the wagon bed.
That was no covered Conestoga, like Pa’s folks came West in, but just an old farm wagon, drawn by one weary horse, creaking and rumbling westward to the mountains, toward the little woods town where Pa thought he had an old uncle who owned a little two-bit sawmill.

A writer reveals what a character is like and how the character changes throughout the story.
Two primary methods of characterization:
Direct- writer tells what the character is like
Indirect- writer shows what a character is like by describing what the character looks like, by telling what the character says and does, and by what other characters say about and do in response to the character.
Indirect Characterization Example
The old man bowed to all of us in the room. Then he removed his hat and gloves, slowly and carefully. Chaplin once did that in a picture, in a bank--he was the janitor.

From “Gentleman of Rio en Medio” by J. Sedillo

Direct Characterization Example
…And I don’t play the dozens or believe in standing around with somebody in my face doing a lot of talking. I much rather just knock you down and take my chances even if I’m a little girl with skinny arms and a squeaky voice, which is how I got the name Squeaky.
From “Raymond’s Run” by T. Bambara

Factors in Analyzing Characters
Physical appearance of character
Background/personal history
Does the character change?

Conflict is a struggle between opposing forces
Every plot must contain some kind of conflict
Stories can have more than one conflict
Conflicts can be external or internal
External conflict- outside force may be person, group, animal, nature, or a nonhuman obstacle
Character vs Character
Character vs Society
Character vs Nature
Internal conflict- takes place in a character’s mind
Character vs Self

A central message, concern, or insight into life expressed through a literary work
Can be expressed by one or two sentence statement about human beings or about life
May be stated directly or implied
Interpretation uncovers the theme

Example of Theme
“Every man needs to feel allegiance to his native country, whether he always appreciates that country or not.”

From “A Man Without a Country” by Edward Hale pg. 185 in Prentice Hall Literature book

Add to your notes in this section:
- the main character in a play, novel, or story.
- the character who opposes the protagonist in a play, novel, or story.
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