Elements of Fiction
When you read a story, you are reading a work of fiction. FICTION is writing that comes from an author’s imagination. Although the author makes the story up, he or she might base it on real events.
Fiction writers write either short stories or novels. A SHORT STORY usually revolves around a single idea and is short enough to be read in one sitting. A NOVEL is much longer and more complex.
CHARACTERS are the people, animals, or imaginary creatures that take part in the actions of the story. Usually, a short story centers on events in the life of one person or animal. He or she is the main CHARACTER. Generally, there are also one or more MINOR CHARACTERS in the story. Minor characters sometimes provide part of the background of the story. More often, however, minor characters interact with the main character and with another. Their words and actions help to move the plot along.
The SETTING is the time and place at which the events of the happen. The time may be the past, the present, or the future; day or night; and any season. A story may be set in a small down or a large city, in a jungle or an ocean.
The sequence of events in a story is called the PLOT. The plot is the writer’s blueprint for what happens in the story, when it happens, and to whom it happens. One event causes another, and so on until the end of the story.
Generally, plots are built around a CONFLICT-a problem or struggle between two or more opposing forces. Conflicts can be as serious as a boy’s attempt to cope with his father’s illness or as humorous as a teacher’s struggle with a foreign language.
The struggle between two opposing forces is called a CONFLICT. Every story has it. The conflict makes you keep reading the story to learn the outcome of the struggle. When one character fights another character or battles nature, the conflict is referred to as EXTERNAL CONFLICT. When the struggle takes place within the character, it is an INTERNAL CONFLICT.
Although the development of each plot is different, traditional fiction generally follows a pattern that includes the following stages:
? EXPOSITION – Exposition sets the stage for the story. Characters are introduced, the setting is described, and the conflict begins to unfold.
? COMPLICATIONS – As the story continues, the plot gets more complex. While the characters struggle to find solutions to the conflict, suspense and a feeling of excitement and energy build.
? CLIMAX – The climax is the point of highest interest or suspense in the story. It is the turning point, when the action reaches a peak and the outcome of the conflict is decided. The climax may occur because a discovery or an event that changes the situation. The climax usually results in a change in the characters or a solution in the conflict.
? RESOLUTION – The resolution occurs at the conclusion of the story. Loose ends are tied up and the story comes to a close.