Literary Terms and Techniques

Unit 1

Plot - the series or sequence of events in a story
  • Exposition - Part of the story in which the basic situation is outlined and the characters and main conflict are introduced
  • Rising Action - Chain of events that take place as the main character struggles to achieve his or her goal
  • Climax - Point of highest emotional intensity; sometimes the point at which we learn the outcome of the conflict
  • Resolution - Events following the climax in which any remaining issues are resolved

Conflict - the struggle or clash between opposing characters, forces, or emotions
  • Internal Conflict - The main character faces an emotional struggle. This conflict is within the character's heart or mind.
  • External Conflict - Occurs when a person or outside force prevents the main character from achieving his or her goal

Flashback - Sometimes an author will interrupt the sequence of events to tell of events that took place in the past. Any scene that presents events that happened before the main time frame of a story is called a flashback. Through the use of flashback, storytellers provide us with background about the main events of the story or share a character's past.

Foreshadowing - Is the use of story clues to hint at what is going to happen later in a story.


Suspense - Is the feeling of uncertainty or anxiety about what is going to happen next. Writers create suspense by hinting at what may happen.

Setting - The time period and place in which a story takes place is called the setting. This could also include a historical period or social beliefs and customs. A story's setting can have a direct impact on how the characters act and the conflicts the characters face.

Mood - Stories often convey a mood, or atmosphere, affecting the way we feel as we read.