Elements of Fiction
Elements of Fiction, pg. 358-364 There are specific elements that you can look for in a work of fiction, and for this class specifically, the short story. In order to determine if something is a complete story, you look for the following elements. These are also listed on the Fiction Terms sheet as the specific definitions that you will see on the exam. Plot: Plot is simply what happens in the story. Traditional plots have a beginning, rising action, a climax, falling action, and an end.
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Many stories begin at the end or in the middle. Some stories have a stronger and more evident plot than others, while some stories rely more on character to propel the story forward. Character: There are two types of character: Round and flat. Round characters are, many times but not all the time, main characters. They change and evolve and experience conflict. Flat characters are really there for only one reason: to propel the story forward.
In Ripe Figs, both characters are flat as neither of them change or are fleshed out, but they do propel the story forward by being who they are (Maman representing maturity and Babette representing impatience and immaturity). Characters do not have to be people, as we see in August 2026, in which the house is the main character. Foreshadowing: Most stories contain some element of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing suggests what is coming. Too much foreshadowing can ruin the element of surprise, but just enough can create suspense.
Setting: Setting is simply where and when the story happens. It includes time periods/eras and historical events, such as wars and natural disasters. Many times the setting can also be a character. The setting can also lend itself to the theme or meaning of the story. Atmosphere: This is similar to setting, but it is actually created by the setting. Atmosphere is more like an emotion rather than a physical thing. Creepy, joyful, hospitable; these could all be types of atmosphere created by the setting.
Point of view: There are three main types of point of view: First (which is the “I”) second (which is the “you”) and third (which is he, she, they). First person point of view can be unreliable, because we only get the point of view of ONE character. That character can tell us anything and we have no way of knowing any different. Second person point of view is less used than the other two. It can both engage and alienate the reader. It can sound accusing, or as if the writer is having a conversation with the reader. Third person point of view is the most common nd the most reliable. There are three types of third person point of view: Objective, Selective, and Omniscient, which are all defined on the Fiction Terms sheet. Theme: This is the underlying idea of a work. All good stories have a theme. In The Red Convertible, there are a couple of themes, which are brotherhood/connection and loss. Theme is NOT the same as plot and should not be confused with it. It can also be difficult to pinpoint in some stories. Simply ask yourself: what is the story about? What does it mean? Why should I care?