Lit Terms by Group Lit Terms by Group
(Compiled by Mrs. Boedeker)

Literary Terms #1

alliteration: the repetition of similar sounds, usually consonant, at the beginning of words.

character: an individual in a literary work.

climax: the point of greatest emotional intensity, interest or suspense in a narrative or drama. Usually it comes at the turning point when the protagonist makes a decision that resolves the conflict.

conflict: the central struggle between two opposing forces in a story or drama.

diction: a writer's choice of words; it's an important element in the writer's voice or style.

exposition: background information that introduces characters, setting and situations.

irony: a contrast or discrepancy between appearance and reality.

metaphor: a figure of speech that compares two seemingly unlike things without the use of connective words such as like or as.

point of view: the relationship of the narrator or storyteller to the story.

resolution: the part of a plot that concludes the falling action by revealing or suggesting the outcome of the central conflict.

simile: a figure of speech using a word or phrase such as like or as to compare seemingly unlike things.

Literary Terms #2

anaphora: the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences, commonly in conjunction with climax and with parallelism.

antagonist: a person or force that opposes the protagonist in a story or drama.

external conflict: when a character struggles against some outside force, such as another character, nature, society or fate.

figurative language: language used for descriptive effect in order to convey ideas or emotions.

genre: a category or type of literature. Examples of genre are poetry, drama, fiction and nonfiction.

historical fiction: a story that sets fictional characters against a backdrop of history and contains many details about the period in which it is set.

internal conflict: a struggle between two opposing thoughts or desires within the mind of a character.

nonfiction: factual prose written about real people, places and events.

novel: a book-length fictional prose narrative. The novel has more scope than a short story in its presentation of plot, character, setting and theme.

personification: a figure of speech in which an animal, an object, a force of nature or an idea is given human characteristics.

plot: the sequence of events in a drama or narrative work of fiction. The components of plot are exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.

protagonist: the central character in a literary work around whom the main conflict revolves.

Literary Terms #3

allusion: a reference in a work of literature to a character, a place, or a situation from history or from music, art or literature.

anecdote: a brief account of an interesting event.

asyndeton: consists of omitting conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses.

bias: the author's personal inclination toward a certain opinion or position on a topic.

connotation: the suggested or implied meaning of a word beyond its dictionary definition.

denotation: the literal or dictionary definition of a word.

dramatic irony: when the audience knows something that the characters in a literary work don't know.

flat character: a character who reveals only one personality trait.

polysyndeton: the use of a conjunction between each word, phrase, or clause.

round character: a character who shows varied and sometimes contradictory traits.

situational irony: exists when the actual outcome of a situation is the opposite of someone's expectations.

verbal irony: when a person says one thing yet means another.

Literary Terms #4

direct characterization: when the writer makes explicit statements about a character.

dynamic character: a character who grows and changes during the course of the literary work.

epiphany: The sudden intuitive recognition of the meaning or essence of something.

indirect characterization: when the writer reveals a character through the character's words and actions and through what other characters think and say about that character.

setting: the time and place in which the events of a literary work can occur. It also includes the ideas, customs, values and beliefs of a particular time and place.

static character: a character who remains basically the same throughout the story.

style: the distinctive way in which an author uses language. Elements such as word choice, phrasing, sentence length and structure, tone, dialogue, an author's purpose and attitude toward audience and subject can all contribute to an author's writing style.

symbol: any object, place, person or experience that exists on a literal level but also represents something else, usually something abstract.

theme: the central message of a work of literature that readers can apply to life. A literary work may have more than one theme.

tone: a reflection of the writer's or speaker's attitude toward the subject matter as conveyed through elements such as word choice, punctuation, sentence structure and figures of speech.

voice: the distinctive use of language that conveys the author's or narrator's personality to the reader. Voice is determined by elements of style such as word choice and tone.

Literary Terms #5

analogy: a comparison to show similarities between two things that are otherwise dissimilar.

complications: a series of difficulties forming the central action in a narrative. These complications make the conflict difficult to resolve and add interest to the story.

flashback: an interruption in the chronological order of a narrative to leap backward in time.

hero: the chief character in a literary work, typically one whose admirable qualities or noble deeds arouse the admiration of the reader.

hyperbole: a figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion, to make a point or to evoke humor.

imagery: the "word pictures" that writers create to evoke an emotional response.

onomatopoeia: the use of a word or phrase that actually imitates or suggests the sound of what it describes.

oxymoron: a figure of speech in which opposite ideas are combined.

parallelism: the use of a series of words, phrases or sentences that have similar grammatical form. Parallelism emphasizes the items that are arranged in similar structures.

prose: written language that is not versified. Novels, short stories and essays are usually written in prose.

Literary Terms #6

assonance: the repetition of vowel sounds, especially in a line of poetry.

denouement: the outcome or resolution of the plot.

falling action: in a narrative, the action that follows the climax.

foreshadowing: an author's use of clues that hint at events that will occur later in the plot.

idiom: a saying or group of words that takes on special meaning, different from the usual meaning of the words that make it up.

mood: the emotional quality or atmosphere of a literary work. A writer's choice of language, subject matter, setting and tone contribute to establishing the mood.

narrative: writing or speech that tells a story.

narrative nonfiction: tells a story and commonly has characteristics of fiction such as setting, characters, theme and plot. Biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and narrative essays are types of narrative nonfiction.

rising action: the part of a plot in which actions, complications, and plot twists lead up to the climax of a story.

sensory details: descriptions that appeal to one or more of the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell.

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