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Literary Terms


The person (or animal) in the story.

direct characterisation

The character is directly described by the author or narrator.

indirect characterisation

The character is described through

a) action: how they behave

b) dialogue: what they say reflects their attitudes and views

c) dialogue: what others say about them can reveal a lot (beware of emotions clouding the judgement of other characters)


The critical point (and often turning point) of the plot.  May be the most emotional.

internal conflict

The character is in dialogue with him/herself.  The voice inside their head.  Sometimes considered the conscience. 

external conflict

a) The character is in conflict with another individual.

b) The character is in conflict with a community.

c) The character is in conflict with God or nature.


The introductory part of the story.  Most short stories do not include this or a very brief version of this.

inciting incident

The problem or conflict is introduced.

rising action

Everything leading up to the climax.

falling action

Everything that happens after the climax.


The storyline of events.


The 'big idea' in a story. 


Could be time or location. 

resolution or denouement

The conclusion of the story.  It may not always be happy or good or even satisfying but it is how the author decides to tie everything up. 

In the attachments I have put a cool diagram that shows how everything works and is more detailed.

Aug 9, 2012, 6:56 PM