Literary Terms to Know

Types of Writing
Genre - how literature is categorized based on literary conventions
Short Story - a type of fictional narrative story usually written in prose; often shorter in length and focuses on one
event, character, or incident
Novel - a longer work of fictional prose
Poetry - a type of literary art form where writers use figurative language and other poetic devices to get the point
of their subject across
Drama - a type of fiction characterized by performance of actors
Fiction - a type of narrative literature that contains imaginary characters and events
Non fiction - a type of narrative literature where the characters and events actually happened
Biography - a type of literature written about someone by another person
Autobiography - a type of literature written by someone about his or her own life
Fable - a type of fictional story where the main characters non-humans, such as animals or mythical creatures,
but have the qualities of humans
Science fiction - a type of genre where characters and events are often set in the future where science and
technology far surpasses the present
Tragedy - a type of narrative that often involves human suffering, including death, in the story
Comedy - a type of story designed for humor or irony

Parts of a Story
Setting - this is where a story takes place in time and location
Character - protagonist, antagonist, hero/heroine are the people that move the plot along and the reason that
many readers stay with a story
Point of view - this how the story is told by the narrator or author; either first, second, or third person
Plot - these are the events in the story from the beginning until the end
Conflict - this important part of a story often prevents the characters from achieving their goals but allows them to
grow from the experiences and then continue onward in their journey
Climax - a very exciting section of the story where the main conflict is resolved
Resolution - this is how the story ends and happens after the climax
Theme - is the central idea of the story, which is often abstract (greed, love, coming of age)
Tone - words used to express how the author feels about the text
Mood - how the reader feels about the text while reading
Narrator - is the person who tells the story and can be limited or omniscient

Literary Devices
Allusion - when an author intensionally makes a reference to another work, such as another piece of literature, a
piece of artwork, or a time, place or person
Imagery - words used to evoke pictures in the minds of the readers
Hyperbole - an exaggeration
Dialogue - the words that characters speak
Symbolism - a symbol is a physical object that represents an abstraction
Irony - words used that often mean something different or the opposite of what they mean
Flashback - part of a story that happened before the current action which is brought out through characters’
dreams or storytelling
Foreshadowing - is when the author alludes to upcoming events without directly stating that they will happen
Suspense - happens when the storyteller or narrator builds excitement in a scene, often prior to the climax
Repetition - when words, symbols, themes or other parts of the story are used more than once
Sensory language - descriptive language that attempts to invoke one or more of the five senses

Sound Devices
Rhyme - when words that sound alike are paired together or near each other
Rhyme scheme - a repetition of a rhyming pattern
Alliteration - repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words
Onomatopoeia - words that represent sounds
Assonance - repetition of vowel sounds at the beginning of words
Meter - combinations of accented and unaccented syllables which often form a pattern
Refrain - pattern of words or phrases that repeats throughout a literary work

Figurative Language
Metaphor - compares two things where one is the other
Simile - compares two things using like or as
Personification - this is where animals or inanimate objects are given human qualities
Idiom - type of phrase where the meanings cannot be inferred by the literal meaning of the words
These literary terms to should be double checked against the school, district or state benchmarks. Some may
have additional requirements, while others may have fewer.