ELEMENTS OF FICTION
In the same way that a painter uses shape, color, perspective, and other aspects of visual
art to create a painting, a fiction writer uses
point of view
, and various kinds of
to create artistic effect
in fiction. Knowledge of these elements of fiction is necessary for most critical
discussions of fiction.
refers to the series of events that give a story its meaning and effect. In most stories,
these events arise out of conflict experienced by the main character.
dramatic struggle between two forces in a story. The conflict may come from something
external, like a dragon or an overbearing mother, or it may stem from an internal issue,
such as jealousy, loss of identity, or overconfidence.
Types of conflict are sometimes
Human vs. Human
Human vs. Nature
Human vs. Society
Plot structure often functions so that the story begins with
which leads to
as the character experiences conflict and crisis.
This conflict reaches a
, after which the conflict is resolved, and the
leads quickly to the
story's end or
refers to the people (or animals, things, etc. presented as people)
appearing in a literary work. The story's
is also its main character, and this
individual can embody the story's theme.
is a character that is in
opposition to or conflict with the protagonist.
The author’s development of a fictional character is known as
methods of characterization include: showing the actions of the character and of those
reacting to him/her, revealing the thoughts or dialogue of the character, showing the
thoughts and dialogue of others in relation to the character, or describing the character’s
, quite simply, is the story’s time and place. Setting includes the following: the
geographical location (ex. Philadelphia, Paris, Hong Kong, or the moon), the time period
(ex. the Restoration, during the Civil war, today, or 3045), the socio-economic
characteristics of the location (ex. Jewish ghettos during WWII, wealthy enclaves in
Beverly Hills), the specific building, room, and so forth (ex. a classroom, a bus, a boat,
the Empire State Building).
Because particular places and times have their own
personality or emotional essence, setting is also one of the primary ways that a fiction
, the underlying feeling or atmosphere produced by a story.
POINT OF VIEW