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Mrs. Stephanie G. Lavarias, M.Ed., NBCT Mrs. Stephanie G. Lavarias, M.Ed., NBCT
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Literature/Narrative Vocabulary

Setting - time (date, time of day, season) and place - a piece of writing will generally have many settings and each setting will generally carry with it a mood or atmosphere.

Characters- the people, animals, living things involved in a story. Major characters are the MAIN characters who are directly involved.  Minor characters are the extra characters in the story.

Plot - what happens, concretely, as though it were placed on a history time line.

Incident - one specific thing which happens in a plot.  Many short stories are basically one incident described in detail.

Theme - the answer to this question: What is this all about?   Themes tend to be the author's message about important human conditions or problems, such as Good and Evil, Death, Freedom, Hope, the Quest, Heritage, Believing, Family, Relationships, The Role of Women in Society.

                     The theme is the same as the LESSON or MORAL of a story.

Ex.  A theme of the novel Dragonwings is that the support of family is essential in a good life.

Stories, plays and poems may have more than one theme about which you can formulate more than one theme statement. But be careful - you must be able to support a theme statement with specific evidence from the story, play or poem itself.

Mood or atmosphere or tone - the overall feeling created by a piece of writing. Mood can often be described in a few words, such as scary, lonely, empty, triumphant, anxious, but you must be able to refer to specific details in the description, setting, or passage to defend your word or words.

Dialogue - a discussion or conversation between two or more characters.  Most dialogues follow the rules of punctuation. Do not confuse dialogue with a play script. Dialogue is part of, or sometimes all of, a story or novel and this is what you should write when you asked to write a dialogue.

Monologue - one character alone  talking to the reader/audience/to himself. A monologue in a play is called a soliloquy and finds the character alone on the stage, often speaking about a decision, plan, or other internal conflict.

Interior monologue or internal monologue - a character thinking to himself. The author will often begin this by saying: He thought, he was thinking, she imagined...

Character traits of a character - what type of person is this? Character traits are revealed through actions, dialogue, internal monologue, and by the author or narrator directly.

Motive - why a character does what he/she does. Motives are often feelings or logical conclusions, but can be also impulse based upon the actions or words of another. Every action has a motive.

External Conflict - a fight, argument, disagreement or simply opposition in which 2 sides are present. Characters, themes, ideas, forces can all be in conflict. The conflict occurs outside of the control of the sides.  Conflicts are stated this way: Joe vs. Sue, man vs. nature, love vs. hate, freedom vs. bondage, free vs. caged, beautiful vs. ugly. Be sure that both sides of the vs. are the same part of speech and that they are, in fact, nearly opposite or in opposition in the book. An external conflict is shown through actions (fight, argument, physical struggle), character traits (a good and a bad character), dialogues, descriptions - just about anything.  Identification of conflicts will lead you to theme. The resolution of the external conflict will advance the plot toward the climax and the end.

Internal Conflict - an argument or decision-making process within one character's mind. An internal conflict is stated this way: Should I swallow my pride and go visit my son, or should I wait until he comes to me with an apology? An internal conflict has a motive and its resolution is important to the development of the plot.


A. Introduction or Exposition - setting, characters, main conflicts are introduced to the reader; this is the beginning of a novel or story and may be short or long, but is always flat (little action or emotion).

B. Rising Action - the round characters are developed, the conflicts are increased and acted out in many ways, motives are introduced, things happen; generally, the major part of a novel or story.

C. Climax - the "high point" of a story in which the major conflicts erupt in some kind of final showdown (fight, argument, violent or physical action, very tense emotional moment...); at the end of the climax, the "winner" will be clear (there is not always a winner!).

D. Falling Action - what events immediately follow the climax; a kind of "cleaning up."

E. Resolution - where everything ends; the reader may have some sense of "closure" or may be asked to think about what might come next; in fairy tales, the Happy Ending; in some novels, you will read about the characters many years later.


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Mrs. Stephanie G. Lavarias, M.Ed, NBCT
Bair Middle School, Broward County, FL
Bair Middle School
9100 NW 21 Manor
Sunrise, Florida 33322