The arrangement of incidents or small events in the
story. Some are more important than others to the solution of the
Opening Situation - The reader is often told
where and when the story occurs; character (s) are introduced.
Inciting Force - A conflict is usually
established between characters.
Rising Action - The conflict between characters
develops and becomes more pronounced.
Climax - The moment of greatest suspense. Climax
is a three-fold phenomenon: 1) the main character receives
new information 2) accepts this information (realizes it but
does not necessarily agree with it) 3) acts on this information
(makes a choice that will determine whether or not he/she gains his
Falling Action - The action leads to the
resolution or final outcome.
Final Outcome - The writer wraps up and ties up
any loose ends in hopes that the reader will leave the story satisfied.
There are two basic types:
- Internal - man versus himself
- External - man versus man
man versus nature
man versus society
man versus unknown
man versus supernatural
man versus time
1) Man vs. Man (physical) -
The leading character struggles with his physical strength against other
men, forces of nature, or animals.
2) Man vs. Circumstances
(classical) - The leading character struggles against fate, or the
circumstances of life facing him/her.
3) Man vs. Society (social)
- The leading character struggles against ideas, practices, or customs
of other people.
4) Man vs. Himself/Herself
(psychological) - The leading character struggles with
himself/herself; with his/her own soul, ideas of right or wrong,
physical limitations, choices, etc.
The theme in a piece of fiction is its controlling
idea or its central insight. It is the author's underlying
meaning or main idea that he is trying to convey. The theme
may be the author's thoughts about a topic or view of human nature.
The title of the short story usually points to what the writer is
saying and he may use various figures of speech to emphasize his
theme, such as: symbol, allusion, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, or
Some simple examples of common themes from
literature, TV, and film are:
- things are not always as they appear to be:
for entertainment--just to
tell an exciting tale
moralistic--to teach a
to make us laugh
People are afraid of
to weave a fantasy and let
us escape from reality
to explore a certain
to explore a certain setting
and how it affected people or events
Don't judge a book by its
The physical background of the story - where and when the story
The time and location in which a story takes place is called the
setting. For some stories the setting is very important, while
for others it is not. There are several aspects of a story's
setting to consider when examining how setting contributes to a
story (some, or all, may be present in a story):
a) place - geographical location.
Where is the action of the story taking place?
b) time - When is the story taking place? (historical
period, time of day, year, etc)
c) weather conditions - Is it rainy, sunny, stormy, etc?
d) social conditions - What is the daily life of the
characters like? Does the story contain local colour (writing
that focuses on the speech, dress, mannerisms, customs, etc. of
a particular place)?
e) mood or atmosphere - What feeling is created at the
beginning of the story? Is it bright and cheerful or dark
The plot needs characters that have tension between them. The
main character is placed in a situation that contains a problem he
must overcome. Most stories also have minor characters who either
help or hinder the main character's attempt to solve his problem.
Characters always have motivation. Something that makes him/er
behave that way?
- Flat Character - a character who doesn't go through a
change. These characters are usually one-dimensional.
- Round (Dynamic) Characters - Characters who are usually
fully developed in terms of personality. They are affected by the
events in the story. They are described in good detail and their
personalities are easy to see. Round characters usually change,
learn, grow, or get worse by the end of the story.
- Protagonist - The main character of the story.
- Stereotyped Characters - a character who is so well known
that little has to be said about him/her. These characters are
immediately recognizable because of the role he/she plays. Examples
- the strong silent gunfighter, the nerd, the beautiful
international spy, the mad scientist, etc.
- Antagonist - This character opposes the protagonist. Often,
he/she is an opponent to the main character and is sometimes right
and justified in his/her actions.
We learn about a character by examining 5 areas:
1. what he/she says
2. what he/she thinks
3. what he/she does
4. what is said
about him/her by other characters and the narrator
5. an author's direct statement
In character analysis, look at the character's
dialogue; his appearance; his actions; his environment; his character
type; what motivates the character; is his motivation consistent?
POINT OF VIEW
Point of view, or p.o.v., is defined as the angle from which the
story is told.
1. Innocent Eye - The story is told through
the eyes of a child (his/her judgment being different from that of
an adult) .
2. Stream of Consciousness - The story is told
so that the reader feels as if they are inside the head of one
character and knows all their thoughts and reactions.
3. First Person - The story is told by
the protagonist or one of the characters who interacts closely with
the protagonist or other characters (using pronouns I, me, we, etc).
The reader sees the story through this person's eyes as he/she
experiences it and only knows what he/she knows or feels.
4. Omniscient- The author can narrate the story
using the omniscient point of view. He can move from character
to character, event to event, having free access to the thoughts,
feelings and motivations of his characters and he introduces
information where and when he chooses. There are two main
types of omniscient point of view:
a) Omniscient Limited - The author tells the
story in third person (using pronouns they, she, he, it, etc).
We know only what the character knows and what the author allows
him/her to tell us. We can see the thoughts and feelings of
characters if the author chooses to reveal them to us.
b) Omniscient Objective – The author tells the
story in the third person. It appears as though a camera is
following the characters, going anywhere, and recording only what is
seen and heard. There is no comment on the characters or their
thoughts. No interpretations are offered. The reader is placed
in the position of spectator without the author there to explain.
The reader has to interpret events on his own.
A reader usually decides very early in
a story if he will continue reading or abandon the text. The author
needs to draw the reader in from the beginning.