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Short Story Literary Terms
Transcript of Short Story Literary Terms
Short Story Literary Terms
Person, thing or force opposed to the protagonist. In other words, ``the bad guy.``
The overall feeling of the story. It is usually created by the tone and the mood of the story or the emotions created by the character.
A character that is fully developed so that the reader can know them fully, including their looks, personality, motives, background and other features. They are the opposite of flat characters and are complex and have many sides. They are realistic.
A “flat” character who is a type. They lack originality and individuality. They have the same qualities over and over again in different situations or stories.
A short story is a piece of prose fiction, usually under 10,000, words which can be read in one sitting.
Artistically, a short story is intended to create an impression via character, conflict, theme, setting, symbols, and point of view. Every detail contributes to this one impression-- a unity of effect. A short story is a personal part of the author-- and today is more concerned with character than action.
Voldemort is the antagonist in Harry Potter. He is opposed to Harry Potter, the protagonist.
Ex. The story dark and frightening. There is a feeling of anxiousness when reading because the character is always looking behind him and feeling afraid.
Ex. Jocks, nerds, etc.
A character that stays the same throughout the whole story and undergoes little or no change. They do not grow or develop. They are the opposite of dynamic characters.
The act of describing the characteristics or qualities of something or someone. This usually includes the character's name, their appearance, what the character says and thinks, how other people and animals think of and react to the character, and what the character does.
Where the author comes right out and tells the reader what a character is like.
This is where the author gives certain information on the character and lets readers draw their own conclusions regarding the character of a person in the story.
A brief description of a particular person or a type of person. In words, the characters personality and behavior is stated.
The clash of opposing forces in the story. It is
introduced at the beginning of the rising action as the inciting incident.
Man vs. Self
This is a type of conflict that occurs inside the characters head. This is where they are battling themselves, their morals, their choices etc. This is an internal conflict.
Man vs. Man
This is a type of conflict that is a direct opposition (protagonist vs. antagonist) or occurs between two or more characters. This is an external conflict.
Man vs. Nature
This is a type of conflict that occurs between man and something like an animal or a force of nature. Something natural, that isn’t human (or of the same species). This is an external conflict.
Ex. A man fighting a bear or a heavy blizzard.
Man vs. the Unknown/Supernatural
This is a type of conflict that occurs between man and something supernatural that isn’t necessarily defined as one thing. It can also be a conflict that the character knows little about. This is an external conflict.
Ex. A man is fighting a curse or something mythological
A conversation including two or more characters in a story.
A situation in which a character must make a difficult choice between two or more disagreeable alternatives.
A sudden insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
A plot device that shifts the story from the present to the past. In other words, it is an event or scene set in a time earlier than the main story.
Hints that the author gives about something that will happen further on in the story. Foreshadowing often makes the reader develop expectations and predictions about future events. It creates an atmosphere of suspense.
Some significant event or action that sets in motion all subsequent events in a plot’s rising action. It often occurs almost immediately at the beginning of a many short stories.
A literary technique where visually descriptive or figurative language is used to describe ideas, actions, or objects. It appeals to one or more of the senses. Imagery basically makes vivid word pictures
A literary technique by which, through characterization or plot, the writer indicates something opposite to that which is stated. It is a contrast between appearance and reality. There are 3 main types of irony. Rhetorical, dramatic (tragic or situation), and cosmic irony.
Rhetorical (verbal) Irony
A contrast between what is said and what is meant. The writer may use this method to reveal a character’s weaknesses, prejudices etc. It is often sarcastic.
Cosmic irony is when "destiny" controls one’s fate. This is where the characters have little influence or significance over what happens.
Ex. A soldier returns from war and is killed in a car accident.
or an Olympic swimmer drowns in a bathtub.
Dramatic, Tragic, or Situation Irony
A contrast between what a character thinks to be true and what the audience knows to be true. This gives the statement a second meaning for the reader. It can also be in the form of a sudden twist in plot and the contrast is then between what happens and what is expected.
A character says to another character it's a
great day for a ride, but the audience knows the person's brother has been killed in a car accident.
The narrator is the person telling the story. There are 5 methods of narration; first person major, first person minor, third person omniscient, third person ordinary, and third person central character.
The leading or major character in a story that the readers often empathizes with. They are usually the “good guy” and is opposed by the antagonist.
Ex. Luke Skywalker is the protagonist in Star Wars who opposes the antagonist, Darth Vader.
Uncertainty and usually mental excitement about the outcome. Authors usually use suspense to keep the reader hanging and keep them reading. It is one of the most important elements in stories and usually make up a lot of the plot until the climax is reached.
Something that stands for or represents something else. There are natural and conventional symbols. Symbols usually use something concrete to represent something abstract.
Ex. Red roses represent love
Natural Symbols are things like: Light = Good
Darkness = Evil
Conventional Symbols are things like:
Cross = Christianity
Star of David = Judaism
The central idea behind the story. It is a comment or main idea about life that the author tries to convey through the story. It shares the authors thoughts about a topic. The tone is the meaning and purpose of the story. A theme should be specific to the story, provide unity to the story, be universal, be an integral part of the story, and present new awareness of life. It is usually implied instead of directly stated.
The writer’s attitude or feelings about his or her character and the plot. It is expressed through their writing. The tone is set by action, choice of details in presenting facts, and the authors style which is their diction, rhythm, sounds and figurative language. A writer often shifts tones to maintain interest in the story.
Ex. The author hold back certain information and uses certain adjectives to make the story have a suspensful tone. It may also be light, ironic, or many other things.
By Lena and Tanner
Ex. Cinderella's stepmother is a good example of a static character. She's evil in the beginning, and evil in the end.
Ex. Dracula is an example of a round character. He is complex and has a history.
Ex. Anna is tall and smart.
Ex. All of the students in Anna's class were shorter and denser than her.
Selma Justinski is twenty-seven years old and has lived in The Bronx all her life. She has never traveled beyond the city of New York and spends most of her time flipping through travel magazines in her mother’s dry cleaning shop. Her family has owned “Justinski Cleaners” for over thirty years. Selma grew up working in the shop and her mother expects her to take over the business when she retires.
Although Selma eats too many potato chips, she is incredibly thin. She has deep brown eyes and short shiny brown hair that frames a different pair of colorful earrings each day. At only 5 feet tall, Selma regularly gets mistaken for a much younger girl – much to her annoyance. Selma tries to look older by wearing heavy black eyeliner and lipstick.
She enjoys salsa dancing. She attends a weekly class and spends her weekend nights at clubs in the city. It is her only escape from her mother, who strongly disapproves of Selma’s salsa. Selma does not have a boyfriend, but idolizes a man she sees regularly at the salsa clubs. She has not talked to him after six months.
Selma Justinski rarely complains and tries to avoid all confrontation. She works in her mother’s shop six days of the week, dances on the weekends and dreams of traveling the world. She is pretty certain there she could be doing more with her life, but does not want to upset her family. She knows that things could be worse. *
*From an online journal.
Ex. Anna has always been thought of as bright. She has brown hair and can reach anything on any shelf. She loves to play volleyball and eat steak.
Ex. In the book, The Hunger Games, the conflict is between the Capital and Katniss and Peeta. They are trying to survive the Hunger games.
Ex. The main character is a guy who is carrying around guilt about something he did ten years ago, and he can't get past it.
Ex. The main character has a fight with her best friend.
Ex. "Excuse me, John. What time is it?" said Micheal.
"It's noon, we're late!" yelled John, running.
Ex. Hugh finds out his wife is cheating on him. He must now make a choice on whether to confront her and possibly get divorced, or let it go and let knowing make him despise her.
Ex. My boyfriend told me he had a surprise for me , but would not tell what it was or when, or where he would give it to me. I have seen him several times since he told me that & he just keeps saying not yet & not here. The suspense is killing me , I am so anxious to know what it is & when & where he is going to spring it on me
To Kill a Mockingbird
"I turned to go home. Street lights winked down the street all the way to town. I had never seen our neighborhood from this angle. There were Miss Maudie's, Miss Stephanie's--there was our house, I could see the porch swing--Miss Rachel's house was beyond us, plainly visible. I could even see Mrs. Dubose's. [...]
Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley proch was enough."
Scout has an epiphany.
Ex. Mariah looked at the picture in the hallway, she suddenly remembered the day when it all happened. She was 6 years old. It was a simpler time.
"Do you even like bubblegum?" He asked.
" It's my favorite type of ice cream dad..."
In Star Wars, Obi Wan says " Why do I get the feeling you will be the death of me?" and later he is killed by Anakin, the man he was speaking to in the quote.
Ex. In the Chronicles of Narnia, by Lewis, the initial incident is when Lucy discovers the wardrobe actually leads to Narnia.
Ex. The rose is bright red. As I admire it, I hear the chirping of several birds. It reminds me of being in a forest. The air smells like the counrty side, fresh and green. There is no scent of smoke or anything unfresh. Just nature.
Ex. The name of Britain’s biggest dog was “Tiny”.
sitting in my own filth.
Ex. In Sherlock Holmes, the main theme of the story is that "Crimes cannot be hidden" and "Evil is always punished."
Ex. This is an example of Third Person Narration:
"Sheila was walking down the road, really fast. Suddenly a man grabbed her neck and pointed a gun at the side of her head. She screamed for mercy."