Short Story Literary Terms


1. Characterization (Direct/Indirect)

the process of revealing the personality of a character

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Roger is timid because he's hungry and is afraid of what Mrs. Jones is going to do to him.

"the boy turned around, wondering what next. The door was open. He would make a dash for it down the hall. He would run, run, run!" (Hughes)

2. Protagonist

the main character.
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Mrs. Jones from "Thank You Ma'm." (Hughes)

3. Antagonist

the person or thing that gets in the way of the main character

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Four from "Divergent." (Roth)

4. Flat Character

a simple character who does not display internal conflicts

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Primrose Everdeen from "Hunger Games." (Collins)

5. Round Character

a complex character who displays internal conflicts

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Katniss Everdeen from "Hunger Games." (Collins)

6. Static Character

a character who stays the same throughout a story

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Squidward from "Spongebob Squarepants."

7. Dynamic Character

a character who changes throughout a story

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Anakin Skywalker from "Star Wars."

8. Internal Conflict

a struggle that takes place within a character’s mind

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Homer Simpson from "The Simpsons."

9. External Conflict

a struggle that takes place outside of a character

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Homer and Bart Simpson from "The Simpsons."

10. Diction

word choice

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Spiderman could be mistaken for a younger person if he was "Spiderboy."

11. Denotation

the dictionary definition of a word (non- debatable)

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"I got your back bro." This could be taken literal, and someone would be hurt.

12. Connotation

all of the emotional associations and societal assumptions connected with a word

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Cast for broken leg, or as in fishing.

13. First Person POV

the vantage point from which a story is told by one character – uses “I”

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When a character talks in a story using "I", it's considered First Person.

14. Third Person Limited POV

a story is told by a narrator who reveals thoughts of one character

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Some stories you know what the character is thinking, but nobody around them does.

15. Third Person Omniscient POV

the vantage point from which a story is told by an all-knowing narrator

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True stories can include Third Person Omniscient, like someone who knows most of what happened.

16. Situational Irony

when you expect one thing to happen and the opposite happens

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A cleaner for clothes makes them dirtier after you wash with it.

17. Verbal Irony

when you say one thing but mean the opposite

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An obvious question being asked, like when I'm playing a video game, somebody asks, "What're you doing?"

18. Dramatic Irony

when the reader or audience knows something a character doesn’t know

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In the movie, "John Wick", John is in his house sneaking around, while people break in, and the robbers do not know what's about to happen to them.

19. Symbol

something that represents more than just itself

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Chinese symbols represent the language from China.