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Understanding the Elements of Fiction Student Notes Identifying the Elements of a Plot Diagram • Every fiction story follows a plot. The story’s plot is made up of a series of events and revolves around one or more characters and a problem. This problem is called the conflict. • Fiction writers follow steps to create stories that are full of imagination and will captivate readers. The best stories have interesting characters and are full of details. • The plot diagram is a graphic organizer that maps out the five major steps of all fiction stories. This includes short stories, novellas, and novels. It even works for plays and movies too! • If you know the five steps of the plot diagram, you will be able to understand the stories you read even more! Using the plot diagram will help you write better stories too! Plot Diagram 3 4 2 1 5 Plot (definition) • Plot is the organized pattern or sequence of events that make up a story. • Every plot is made up of a series of incidents that are related to one another. 1. Exposition • This usually occurs at the beginning of a short story. Here the characters are introduced. We also learn about the setting of the story. • The exposition introduces us to the main conflict (main problem). 2. Rising Action • This part of the story begins to develop the conflict(s). A building of interest or suspense occurs (preparing us for the climax). 3. Climax • This is the turning point of the story. Usually the main character comes face to face with a conflict. After the climax, the main character will change in some way. 4. Falling Action • All loose ends of the plot are tied up. The conflict(s) and climax are taken care of, preparing the reader for the final stage: the resolution. 5. Resolution • The story comes to a reasonable ending. • There should be no unanswered questions (mysteries are the exception). • Everything makes sense. • The reader has a sense that the story has come to an ending. Putting It All Together 1. Exposition Beginning of Story 2. Rising Action Middle of Story 3. Climax 4. Falling Action End of Story 5. Resolution Let’s watch a short video about plot & plot development! Watch and listen carefully. Key words: plot, conflict, climax, resolution, and subplot. Plot Diagram 3 4 2 5 1 1) Exposition=the story’s 2) Rising Action= the part of 3) Climax=the most important opening. The exposition the story where the conflict is or exciting point or event in the describes the setting and introduced; interest or story; a turning point in the introduces the main character(s). suspense starts to build. story. Something about the main character changes. 4) Falling Action=all loose ends of the 5) Resolution=the conflict is resolved; plot are tied up. The conflict(s) and there is a solution to the character’s climax are taken care of, leading to the problem(s) and the story concludes conflict’s resolution. with a reasonable ending. CHARACTERS: People or animals who take part in the action of a story are known as the characters. CHARACTERIZATION: Character development is the way a writer reveals the personality of the character(s) throughout the story. Characterization includes descriptions, personal traits & the ways the character(s) change throughout the story. The main character will always change after the climax, and by the end of a story, a character’s words or actions may be completely different than they were in the beginning. Characteristics of Classic Literature Learn the defining characteristics of classic literature such as timelessness, dealing with universal themes and experiences and communicating across cultures. Certain works of literature have been published for a very long time. Some works of fiction have been published for hundreds— even thousands—of years. These works are considered classics. What qualities do you think classic pieces of literature possess? Why do some stories disappear, while others last for many years? Timelessness A good piece of literature can be enjoyed by readers from generation to generation. That is timelessness. FOR EXAMPLE: Shakespeare's works are enjoyed as much today as they were when they were first written, hundreds of years ago. But why? How did he do it? Well, by carefully choosing his theme is one way. Theme The theme is an insight, idea, or question about life that a story explores. Another way of describing a story’s theme is to think about the general idea the author wants readers to think about as they read. A theme is the underlying meaning of a piece of literature. It usually includes an observation about life. It could be the moral of the story, a teaching or an observation of human experience. How Can You Determine a Theme? You are never actually TOLD what the theme is in a story. You determine the theme from the characters’ action in a story. Recurring symbols, questions, or concepts in the narrative—or the conversation between characters—can help you figure out the theme. In short, you must determine the theme on your own. Some examples include: Aladin - The theme could be described as: love is not earned through riches of the wallet, but of the heart. (How would you describe the theme of Aladin?) Beauty and the Beast - The theme could be described as: You must look beyond the package and look for what's inside. (Don’t judge a book by its cover.) Universal Theme Themes that can be understood and appreciated by people of all ages, cultures, places, and generations are called universal themes. If the story’s theme is something that anyone could relate to—or that could be considered timeless—the theme is universal. A few examples: “Good versus evil” “Bravery” “Love conquers all.” “Patience is a virtue.” “Friendship” “Growing & Changing” “Greed” “Life is a cycle.” “Pride of oneself can lead to destruction.” Try and think of a story you’ve read that has a universal theme? Do you think this book might one day be considered a timeless classic? Why or why not? Conflict • All fiction stories revolve around one main conflict, and may include secondary conflicts which add to the subplots of the story. • A conflict may be simple or complex. • Different types of conflicts: o man versus man o man versus self o man versus nature o man versus technology o man versus the world Remember that “man” refers to “human” or “humankind.” Quality literature asks us to consider the human experience.
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