Complete Literary Terms & Types

Informal Essay
uses casual language
Historical Essay
gives facts, explanations, and insights about historical events
Expository Essay
explains an idea by breaking it down
Narrative Essay
tells a story about a real-life experience
Informational Essay
explains a process
Persuasive Essay
offers an opinion and supports it
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Direct Characterization
a writer states the characters’ traits or characteristics
a writer depends on the reader to draw conclusions about the characters’ traits
Main Character
the most important character in a story, poem, or play
Minor Character
one who takes part in the action but is not the focus of attention
Flat Character
one-sided and often stereotypical
Round Character
fully developed and exhibits many traits often both faults and virtues
Dynamic Character
changes and grows during the course of work
Static Character
one who does not change
External Conflict
man against man, man against nature, man against society
Internal Conflict
man against himself
Poetry
poetry: lyric, concrete, dramatic, narrative, and epic
Prose
fiction (novels and short stories) and nonfiction (biography, autobiography, letters, essays, and reports)
Drama
drama: serious and tragedy, comic, melodrama, and farce
Third-Person Narrator
one who stands outside the action and speaks about it
First-Person Narrator
one who tells a story and participates in its action
First-Person Point of View
is told by a character who uses the first-person pronoun “I”
Omniscient Third-Person Point Of View
the narrator knows and tells about what each character feels and thinks
Limited Third-Person Point of View
the narrator relates the inner thoughts and feelings of only one character, and everything is viewed from this character’s perspective
Alliteration
the repetition of initial consonant sounds
Analogy
makes a comparison between two or more things that are alike in some ways but otherwise unalike
Anecdote
a brief story about an interesting, amusing, or strange event
Antagonist
a character or a force in conflict with the main character or protagonist
Atmosphere
or mood is the feeling created in the reader by a literary work or passage
Autobiography
is the nonfiction story of the writers own life, told by the writer, first person
Biography
a form of nonfiction in which a writer tells the life story of another person
Character
a person or animal that takes part in the action of a literary work
Characterization
the act of creating and developing a character
Climax
also called the turning point is the high point in the action of the plot
Comedy
a literary work, especially a play, which is light, often humorous or satirical, and ends happily
Concrete Poem
one with the shape that suggests its subject
Conflict
a struggle between opposing forces
Connotation
a word is the set of ideas associated with the meaning of the word
Denotation
a word is its dictionary meaning of the word
Description
a portrait in words, using language that appeals to the five sense: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell
Development
the sequence of cause and effect events in the plot
Dialect
the form of a language spoken by people in a particular region or group
Dialogue
a conversation between characters
Drama
a story written to be performed by actors, acts and scenes
Dynamic Character
one who changes or grows during the course of the work
Essay
a short nonfiction work about a particular subject, have a single major focus
Exposition
introduces the chracters, setting, and basic situation
Expository Writing
writing that explains or informs
Extended Metaphor
several connected comparisons are made
External Conflict
man against man, man against nature, man against society
Fable
a brief story or poem, usually with animal characters, that teaches a lesson, or moral
Fantasy
highly imaginative writing that contains elements not found in real life
Fiction
prose writing that tells about imaginary characters and events
Figurative Language
language not meant to be taken literally
Figure of Speech
metaphor, personification, and simile
Flashback
a writing technique that interrupts the story to tell about things in the past
Flat Character
one-sided, often stereotypical
Folk Tale
it is story passed down from person to person by word of mouth
Foot
In a poem the weak and the strong stresses are then divided by vertical lines into groups called feet
Foreshadowing
a writer’s technique that gives you clues about what might happen in the future
Free Verse
is poetry not written in a regular rhyme scheme, rhythmical pattern, or meter
Genre
division or type of literature, poetry, prose, and drama
Haiku
a Japanese poem, three lines, five, seven, five syllables
Hero/Heroine
a character whose actions are inspiring or noble
Figures of Speech
metaphor, personification, and simile
Flashback
a writing technique that interrupts the story to tell about things in the past
Flat Character
one-sided and often stereotypical
Folk Tale
a story passed down from person to person by word of mouth
Foot
In a poem, the weak and strong stresses are then divided by vertical lines (|) into groups called feet.
Foreshadowing
a writer’s technique that gives you clues about what might happen in the future
Free Verse
poetry not written in a regular rhyme scheme, rhythmical pattern, or meter
Genre
division or type of literature; poetry, prose, and drama
Haiku
a Japanese poem, three lines, five, seven, five syllables
Hero/Heroine
a character whose actions are inspiring, or noble
Historical Fiction
real events, places, or people are incorporated into a fictional or imaginative story
Images
words or phrases that appeal to one or more of the five senses
Imagery
mental pictures, a portrait in words
Internal Conflict
man against himself
Irony
is a literary technique that uses surprising, interesting, or amusing contradictions
Journal
a periodic, account of events and the writer’s thoughts and feelings about those events
Legend
is a widely told story about the past and every culture has some
Letters
written communication from one to another
Limerick
a humorous, rhyming, five-line poem with a specific meter and rhyme scheme
Lyric Poem
a highly musical verse that expresses the observations and feelings of a single speaker
Main Character
the most important chracter in story, poem, or play
Media Accounts
writings for television, radio, newspaper, and magazines
Metaphor
figure of speech in which something something is described as though it were something else without using like or as
Meter
a poem’s rhythimical pattern
Minor Character
one who takes part in the action but is not the focus of attention
Mood
Atmosphere, the feeling created in the reader while reading a literary work
Moral
a lesson taught by a literary work
Motivation
what propels a character to think, act, speak, and feel a certain way
Motive
a reason that explains a character’s thoughts, feelings, actions, or speech
Myth
a fictional tale that explains the actions of gods, heroes, or nature
Narration
writing that tells a story
Narrative
a story
Narrative Poem
a story told in verse
Narrator
a speaker or character who tells a story
Nonfiction
prose writing that tells about real people, places, objects, or events
Novel
a long work of fiction
Novella
a fiction work that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel
Onomatopoeia
the use of words that imitate sounds
Oral Tradition
the passing of songs, stories, and poems from generation to generation by word of mouth
Personification
figurative language where a nonhuman object is given human characteristics
Perspective
point of view
Persuasion
convince the reader or listener to adopt a particular opinion
Playwright
a person who writes plays
Plot
sequence of cause and effect events
Poetry
one of the three major types of literature; musical, imagery, figurative language, rhythm, and special devices of sound such as rhyme
Point of View
perspective from which a story is told
Problem
conflict
Prose
ordinary form of written language, opposite of poetry
Protagonist
the main character in a literary work
Refrain
regularly repeated line or group of lines in a poem or song
Repetition
the use, more than once, of any element of language (sound, word, phrase, clause, or sentence) is used in both prose and poetry
Resolution
outcome of the conflict in a plot
Rhyme
the repetition of sounds at the ends of words
Rhyme Scheme
a regular pattern of rhyming words in a poem
Rhythm
is the regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables
Round Character
one who is fully developed and has many traits often both faults and virtues
Scene
a selection of uninterrupted action in the act of a drama- scene, act, drama
Science Fiction
combines the elements of fiction, fantasy and scientific fact
Sensory Language
writing or speech that appeals to the five senses
Setting
the time and place of the story
Short Story
a brief work of fiction
Simile
figure of speech that uses like or as to compare two unlike things
Speaker
the imaginary voice a poet uses when writing a poem
Stage Directions
notes in a drama to describe how the work is to be performed or staged
Staging
the setting, lighting, costumes, special effects, music, dance, all the elements of a stage performance in a drama
Stanza
a group of lines of poetry that acts like a paragraph in prose
Static Character
one who does not change
Surprise Ending
is a conclusion that is unexpected
Suspense
anxious uncertainty about the outcome
Symbol
anything that stands for or represents something else
Theme
central message, main idea
Tone
the writer’s attitude toward the audience and subject
Tragedy
a work of literature, especially a play, that results in a catastrophe for the main character
Turning Point
climax