Reference list of Literary Terms for Middle School students
alliteration - the repetition of similar initial consonant sounds in order to create a
musical or rhythmic effect, to emphasize key words or to imitate sounds.
Example: â€œHe was reluctant to return to the room he called home.â€�
allusion - a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work
of art, often used to help make a comparison.
biography - a form of non-fiction in which a writer tells the life story of another
character trait â€“ the quality of a character; what a character is like.
climax â€“ the highest point of action in a story, often the turning point.
direct characterization â€“ the writer directly states the characterâ€™s traits or
dynamic character â€“ a character who changes over the course of a story
external conflict â€“ a problem or struggle between a character and an
character vs. character
character vs. group
character vs. nature
character vs. society
character vs. fate
fable - a brief story, usually with animal characters, that teaches a lesson or
fiction â€“ writing that tells about imaginary characters and events.
flashback - a section in a literary piece that interrupts the sequence of events in
order to relate an earlier incident or set of events.
foreshadowing â€“ an authorâ€™s use of hints or clues to give a reader an idea of what
may happen next.
free-verse - poetry that has irregular lines and may or may not rhyme.
generalization â€“ a vague or indefinite statement that is made to cover many cases.
Example: â€œAll human beings hope for something.â€�
hyperbole â€“ use of extreme exaggeration.
idiom - a word or phrase which means something different from what it
says â€“ it is usually a metaphor. An idiom is an expression peculiar to a
certain group of people and/or used only under certain circumstances.
imagery â€“ words or phrases that appeal to one or more of the five senses and help
to create a vivid description for the reader.
indirect characterization â€“ the writer allows the reader to draw his/her conclusions
as to what a character is like, based on the appearances, words, actions, and
interactions with other characters.
inference â€“ a conclusion drawn by the reader based on available information.
internal conflict â€“ a problem within a character (character vs. self).
irony - a situation where the opposite of what is expected to occur or exist does
occur or exist.
metaphor - a figure of speech in which something is described as if it were
something else; a comparison made without using â€œlikeâ€� or â€œasâ€�.
mood â€“ the atmosphere or feeling an author creates within the piece of writing.
moral â€“ a lesson taught by a literary work.
motivation â€“ a reason that explains or partially explains a characterâ€™s thoughts,
feelings, actions, or speech.