brain.jpgI will independently read a significant number of books and texts each year, including both fiction and nonfiction in a variety of genres. I will also use a variety of skills and strategies to comprehend and interpret fiction, nonfiction, and informational texts. I will also read with fluency, silently and aloud, to support my comprehension.

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Basic Literary Terms

Antagonist - The character, force, or collection of forces in fiction or drama that opposes the protagonist and gives rise to the conflict of the story; an opponent of the protagonist, such as Claudius in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. See also character, conflict.

Character, characterization - A character is a person presented in a dramatic or narrative work, and characterization is the process by which a writer makes that character seem real to the reader.

Climax - The moment of greatest emotional tension in a narrative, usually marking a turning point in the plot at which the rising action reverses to become the falling action.

Conflict - The struggle within the plot between opposing forces. The protagonist engages in the conflict with the antagonist, which may take the form of a character, society, nature, or an aspect of the protagonist’s personality. See also character, plot.

Crisis - A turning point in the action of a story that has a powerful effect on the protagonist. Opposing forces come together decisively to lead to the climax of the plot. See also plot.

Dialogue - The verbal exchanges between characters. Dialogue makes the characters seem real to the reader or audience by revealing firsthand their thoughts, responses, and emotional states. See also diction.

Diction - A writer’s choice of words, phrases, sentence structures, and figurative language, which combine to help create meaning.

Exposition - A narrative device often used at the beginning of a work that provides necessary background information about the characters and their circumstances. Exposition explains what has gone on before, the relationships between characters, the development of a theme, and the introduction of a conflict.

Falling action - (or resolution) is characterized by diminishing tensions and the resolution of the plot’s conflicts and complications.

Flashback - A narrated scene that marks a break in the narrative in order to inform the reader or audience member about events that took place before the opening scene of a work. See also exposition.

Foreshadowing - The introduction early in a story of verbal and dramatic hints that suggest what is to come later.

Genre - A French word meaning kind or type. The major genres in literature are poetry, fiction, drama, and essays. Genre can also refer to more specific types of literature such as comedy, tragedy, epic poetry, or science fiction.

Imagery - A word, phrase, or figure of speech (especially a simile or a metaphor) that addresses the senses, suggesting mental pictures of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, or actions. Images offer sensory impressions to the reader and also convey emotions and moods through their verbal pictures. See also figures of speech

Irony - A literary device that uses contradictory statements or situations to reveal a reality different from what appears to be true.

Metaphor - A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, without using the word like or as.

Narrator - The voice of the person telling the story.

Onomatopoeia - A term referring to the use of a word that resembles the sound it denotes. Buzz, rattle, bang, and sizzle all reflect onomatopoeia.

Personification - A form of metaphor in which human characteristics are attributed to nonhuman things.

Plot - An author’s selection and arrangement of incidents in a story to shape the action and give the story a particular focus.

Point of view- Refers to who tells us a story and how it is told. What we know and how we feel about the events in a work are shaped by the author’s choice of point of view.

Protagonist - The main character of a narrative; its central character who engages the reader’s interest and empathy. See also character.

Rising action - The first part of the plot in which complication creates some sort of conflict for the protagonist.

Setting - The physical and social context in which the action of a story occurs. The major elements of setting are the time, the place, and the social environment that frames the characters.

Simile - A common figure of speech that makes an explicit comparison between two things by using words such as like, as, than, appears, and seems: "A sip of Mrs. Cook’s coffee is like a punch in the stomach."

Suspense The anxious anticipation of a reader or an audience as to the outcome of a story, especially concerning the character or characters with whom sympathetic attachments are formed.

Symbol - A person, object, image, word, or event that evokes a range of additional meaning beyond and usually more abstract than its literal significance.

Theme - The central meaning or dominant idea in a literary work.