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Literary Terms to Know

Types of Writing

  • Genre - how literature is categorized based on literary conventions

  • Short Story - a type of fictional narrative story usually written in prose; often shorter in length and focuses on one event, character, or incident

  • Novel - a longer work of fictional prose

  • Poetry - a type of literary art form where writers use figurative language and other poetic devices to get the point of their subject across

  • Drama - a type of fiction characterized by performance of actors

  • Fiction - a type of narrative literature that contains imaginary characters and events

  • Non fiction - a type of narrative literature where the characters and events actually happened

  • Biography - a type of literature written about someone by another person

  • Autobiography - a type of literature written by someone about his or her own life

  • Fable - a type of fictional story where the main characters non-humans, such as animals or mythical creatures, but have the qualities of humans

  • Science fiction - a type of genre where characters and events are often set in the future where science and technology far surpasses the present

  • Tragedy - a type of narrative that often involves human suffering, including death, in the story

  • Comedy - a type of story designed for humor or irony


Parts of a Story

  • Setting - this is where a story takes place in time and location

  • Character - protagonist, antagonist, hero/heroine are the people that move the plot along and the reason that many readers stay with a story

  • Point of view - this how the story is told by the narrator or author; either first, second, or third person

  • Plot - these are the events in the story from the beginning until the end

  • Conflict - this important part of a story often prevents the characters from achieving their goals but allows them to grow from the experiences and then continue onward in their journey

  • Climax - a very exciting section of the story where the main conflict is resolved

  • Resolution - this is how the story ends and happens after the climax

  • Theme - is the central idea of the story, which is often abstract (greed, love, coming of age)

  • Tone - words used to express how the author feels about the text

  • Mood - how the reader feels about the text while reading

  • Narrator - is the person who tells the story and can be limited or omniscient


Literary Devices

  • Allusion - when an author intentionally makes a reference to another work, such as another piece of literature, a piece of artwork, or a time, place or person

  • Imagery - words used to evoke pictures in the minds of the readers

  • Hyperbole - an exaggeration

  • Dialogue - the words that characters speak

  • Symbolism - a symbol is a physical object that represents an abstraction

  • Irony - words used that often mean something different or the opposite of what they mean

  • Flashback - part of a story that happened before the current action which is brought out through characters' dreams or storytelling

  • Foreshadowing - is when the author alludes to upcoming events without directly stating that they will happen

  • Suspense - happens when the storyteller or narrator builds excitement in a scene, often prior to the climax

  • Repetition - when words, symbols, themes or other parts of the story are used more than once

  • Sensory language - descriptive language that attempts to invoke one or more of the the five senses


Sound Devices

  • Rhyme - when words that sound alike are paired together or near each other

  • Rhyme scheme - a repetition of a rhyming pattern

  • Alliteration - repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words

  • Onomatopoeia - words that represent sounds

  • Assonance - repetition of vowel sounds at the beginning of words

  • Meter - combinations of accented and unaccented syllables which often form a pattern

  • Refrain - pattern of words or phrases that repeats throughout a literary work


Figurative Language

  • Hyperbole - an intentional exaggeration used to make a point

  • Metaphor - compares two things where one is the other

  • Simile - compares two things using like or as

  • Personification - Personification is a type of metaphor and a common literary device. It is when you assign the qualities of a person to something that isn't human or that isn't even alive, such as nature or household items.

  • Idiom - type of phrase where the meanings cannot be inferred by the literal meaning of the words


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