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Keys to Understanding Fiction

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  • Keys to Understanding Fiction

     

     

    Keys to Understanding Fiction

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    As you begin your study of fiction, scrolll down to review the basic elements. You will be expected to know these terms and use them in your discussion posts and reader response journals in this unit.

    The basic elements of fiction are Plot, Character, Setting, Theme, Point of View and Conflict.

    PLOT: a series of events related to a central struggle or conflict. The typical plot involves the introduction of a conflict, its development, and eventual resolution.

    CHARACTER: a person (sometimes an animal or inanimate object) that is part of the action of a literary work.

    • A protagonist or main character is the central figure in a literary work.
    • An antagonist is the character pitted against the protagonist in a literary work.
    • Major characters are those who are most important to the plot of a literary work.
    • Minor characters are those who play less important roles in a literary work.
    • Round or three-dimensional characters are those who demonstrate the complexity of human traits common to most people.
    • Flat or one-dimensional characters are those who demonstrate one single dominant character trait.
    • Static characters are those who do not change during the course of the plot's action. They do not show growth or development in their characters.
    • Dynamic characters are those who do change during the course of the plot's action. They show growth or development in their characters.

    SETTING: the time and place in which a literary work is set or placed, together with all the details used by the author to create the sense of a particular time and place. In its broadest sense, setting can include the general social, moral, political and psychological conditions in which the characters find themselves.

    THEME : the central idea of a literary work; the major point that the author makes with the work as a whole.

    POINT OF VIEW: the vantage point or viewpoint from which a work of literature is told.

    • First person point of view - the narrator tells the story using words such as I and we. In stories that are told from the first person point of view the narrator may be a participant or witness to the action.
    • Third person point of view - the narrator tells the story using words such as he, she, it, and they. In stories told from this point of view the narrator usually is outside the action.
    • Limited point of view - the narrator can only reveal the private, internal thoughts of himself or herself or of a single character.
    • Omniscient point of view - the narrator can reveal the private, internal thoughts of any character.

    CONFLICT: the central struggle between two forces in a work of literature

    • person against person - when two or more characters are in conflict against each other, physically or psychologically
    • person against nature - when one or more characters are in conflict against the forces of nature
    • person against society - when one or more characters are in conflict against the values, beliefs or norms of a society
    • person against self - when a character is in conflict against some element within his or her own self.