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The Elements of Fiction

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1 The Elements of Fiction
New American Lecture Do not display PowerPoint until hook is completed. Hook “I need you help. Can I have a volunteer?” “I need you to taste this Kool Aid.” Student should respond that there is no sugar. “How do you know it doesn’t have any sugar?” Student should respond that they have tasted Kool Aid before and they know it should be sweet. Or that they have made it before and know the ingredients. “So can we draw the conclusion that there are certain things you must have to make Kool Aid and that I have not included all of the ingredients?” Students agree. “So what are the ingredients?” Sugar, water and Kool Aid. Bridge “You’ve probably never thought of this, but Kool Aid and short stories have something in common. Today we are going to find out what that is.”

2 What Is Plot? Plot is “what happens” in a story—the sequence of related events that makes a story hang together. “We will begin by examining plot. Plot occurs not only in traditional literature such as plays, novels, and short stories, but also in movies, comic books, and television shows. Even the conversations you have with your friends have stories with plots. Plot gives stories structure and helps the listener or viewer follow the story.” “The same basic plot is often shared by different stories, such as the familiar ‘two people meet, fall in love, situations force them apart, then they try to regain what they had’ plot. Do you recognize this plot in something you’ve read or viewed lately” (Interpersonal) Students share examples of movies, TV shows or literature. “Despite the similar basic plot, why are these stories still so different?” (Understanding) Details, setting and characters make the stories different.

3 Exposition The first part of a story is the exposition. The writer introduces a character who wants something very much the setting “The first part of plot is exposition. Exposition sets the story up. We are introduced to characters and setting in the exposition.”

4 Conflict The main conflict in a story may be internal or external.
External conflict: a struggle between a character and an outside force External: climbing wall Internal conflict: a struggle within the character’s own heart or mind “The second part of plot is the conflict. Why do you think it is referred to as the conflict?” (Understanding) Students respond that the character faces a conflict or problem. Internal: fear

5 Internal conflict External conflict Types of Conflict man vs. himself
man vs. society man vs. man man vs. nature man vs. supernatural “There are several different types of conflict, which you should already be familiar with.” Display examples of internal and external conflict.

6 Exposition and Conflict
Quick Check What is the exposition? In a forest of mixed growth somewhere on the eastern spurs of the Carpathians, a man stood one winter night watching and listening, as though he waited for some beast of the woods to come within the range of his vision and, later, of his rifle. But the game for whose presence he kept so keen an outlook was none that figured in the sportsman’s calendar as lawful and proper for the chase; Ulrich von Gradwitz patrolled the dark forest in quest of a human enemy. from “The Interlopers” by Saki What conflict does Ulrich face?

7 Basic Situation Quick Check What is the exposition?
In a forest of mixed growth somewhere on the eastern spurs of the Carpathians, a man stood one winter night watching and listening, as though he waited for some beast of the woods to come within the range of his vision and, later, of his rifle. But the game for whose presence he kept so keen an outlook was none that figured in the sportsman’s calendar as lawful and proper for the chase; Ulrich von Gradwitz patrolled the dark forest in quest of a human enemy. from “The Interlopers” by Saki Ulrich is walking through the forest on a winter night looking for someone.

8 Basic Situation Quick Check What conflict does Ulrich face?
In a forest of mixed growth somewhere on the eastern spurs of the Carpathians, a man stood one winter night watching and listening, as though he waited for some beast of the woods to come within the range of his vision and, later, of his rifle. But the game for whose presence he kept so keen an outlook was none that figured in the sportsman’s calendar as lawful and proper for the chase; Ulrich von Gradwitz patrolled the dark forest in quest of a human enemy. from “The Interlopers” by Saki That of a human enemy.

9 Rising Action Next, a series of complications arises—events that make the character’s situation more difficult and heighten the suspense. Complication: “If only on this wild night, in this dark, lone spot, he might come across Georg Znaeym, man to man, with none to witness-that was the wish that was uppermost in his thoughts. And as he stepped round the trunk of a huge beech he came face to face with the man he sought.” from “The Interlopers” by Saki “The rising action is where we see the conflict or complication unfold. Think of a movie you have watched recently. How did you feel during the rising action?” (Interpersonal) Students may respond with anxious, suspense, dread, etc. “That’s right; the purpose of the rising action is to build suspense and foreshadow things to come.”

10 Climax The plot reaches a climax. The climax
is the most exciting or suspenseful moment decides the outcome of the conflict “Ulrich von Gradwitz found himself stretched on the ground, one arm numb beneath him and the other held almost as helplessly in a tight tangle of forked branches, while both legs were pinned beneath the fallen mass.” “At his side, so near that under ordinary circumstances he could almost have touched him, lay Georg Znaeym, alive and struggling, but obviously as helplessly pinioned down as himself. from “The Interlopers” by Saki “The next part is climax. The climax is the most exciting part of the story because the conflict is about to be settled. “Next we have falling action. In most stories and movies, the falling action is very short compared to the rising action, and it leads into the resolution which is the final part of plot.”

11 Resolution The last part of the plot is the resolution, or denouement.
The problems are resolved in some way. The story ends—sometimes happily, sometimes not. “Who are they?” asked Georg quickly, straining his eyes to see what the other would gladly not have seen. “Wolves.” from “The Interlopers” by Saki “The resolution is also referred to as the denouement. Imagine Romeo and Juliet without a resolution.” (Self-Expressive)

12 Questions Around the Wheel
Mastery What are the six elements of plot? Interpersonal Think about a short story you have read. What was your favorite part of the story? Understanding Why is the exposition so important to the plot? Self-Expressive What would happen if a story had no conflict? Let’s take a minute to review the six elements of plot. Take out a sheet of paper and fold it so there are four squares. Respond to each question in the appropriate square.

13 Mapping a Short Story You will chart the plot of the story we will read by using a diagram like the one below. Copy this example so that you may successfully complete the mapping assignment. Climax Complications Event Event Read a short short story and have students practice charting the elements of the plot. Event Resolution Basic Situation

14 Setting

15 Setting Setting draws us into the world of a story. Details of setting tell us where and when events are happening how the situation feels who the characters are what challenges the characters face

16 Character

17 The Protagonist The protagonist is the main character and the focus of readers’ attention. A good protagonist is complicated and contradictory, like a real person has both strengths and weaknesses “Have you ever read a story that had an animal or object as the main character?” The Call of the Wild is a dog and fairy tales and fables have animals as characters

18 The Antagonist The antagonist is the force that blocks the protagonist from getting what he or she wants. The antagonist may be another character a nonhuman force “These terms apply to television and movies as well as literature. Think of your favorite TV show. Who is the protagonist? Who or what is the antagonist?” (Interpersonal)

19 Direct Characterization
Direct Characterization—The writer tells readers directly what a character is like. Oh, but he was a tightfisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! from “A Christmas Story” by Charles Dickens “Authors use direct and indirect characterization to describe what the protagonist and antagonist is like.” “In the example, what part of speech does Dickens repeatedly use to describe Scrooge?” “How could you use direct characterization to describe your best friend?” (Interpersonal)

20 Indirect Characterization
Indirect Characterization—The writer reveals characters’ traits through appearance dialogue private thoughts actions “Why would an author choose to use indirect characterization rather than direct characterization?” (Understanding) It is much more satisfying to discover for ourselves what people are truly like. effects on others

21 Dynamic Characters Dynamic characters change or grow as a result of the story’s action. They are main characters gain a new understanding, make an important decision, or take a crucial action help reveal the meaning of the story “Why do you think main characters are usually dynamic characters?” (Understanding) Main characters are usually involved in the story’s conflict. As they work through the conflict, they usually learn something about themselves or others and change in some way. Believable changes

22 Static Characters Static characters are usually exactly the same as the story ends as they were when it began. They are almost always subordinate characters support the plot without distracting readers from the main action—the protagonist’s conflict and growth “Why do authors unclude both static and dynamic characters in stories?” (Understanding) To keep the story interesting and realistic. “What would a story be like if all the characters were static or dynamic?” (Self-Expressive) If all were static, then not much would happen in the story, and readers would get bored. If all the characters were dynamic, then readers might be overwhelmed and not be able to tell who the main characters are.”

23 Flat and Round Characters
Flat characters have only one or two character traits can be described in a few words are usually minor characters

24 Flat and Round Characters
have many character traits are complex, like real people are often major characters

25 Questions Around the Wheel - Character
Mastery Define indirect and direct characterization. Interpersonal Think of a movie, show or story you’ve read/viewed recently. Classify the characters. Understanding Compare and contrast dynamic and static characters. Self-Expressive What information would have to be added to the play Romeo and Juliet to make Paris a round character rather than a flat character? “Let’s take a minute to review the information on characters. Take out a sheet of paper and fold it into four squares. Then, respond to each question in the appropriate square.”

26 Point of View

27 What Is Point of View? Point of view is the vantage point from which a writer narrates or tells a story. “Think of point of view as a camera angle in a movie: Where the camera is placed will determine what information the viewer sees. How might the Odyssey be different if it were told from the pov of Penelope rather than Odysseus?” (Self-Expressive) “When you read a story, you hear someone—the narrator—telling the story. The narrator controls everything we know about the characters and events. There are three types of narrators.”

28 Omniscient Point of View
In the omniscient point of view, the all-knowing narrator plays no part in the story knows and can tell what any character is thinking and feeling knows what is happening in all of the story’s settings “Omniscient pov is often used in fairy tales, myths and fables.” “Just because the narrator knows everything does not mean the narrator will communicate everything to the reader. Why might an omniscient narrator withhold information from the reader?” (Understanding)

29 Omniscient Point of View
Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the omniscient point of view? The feud might, perhaps, have died down or been compromised if the personal ill will of the two men had not stood in the way; as boys they had thirsted for one another’s blood, as men each prayed that misfortune might fall on the other, and this wind-scourged winter night from “The Interlopers” by Saki

30 Omniscient Point of View
Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the omniscient point of view? The feud might, perhaps, have died down or been compromised if the personal ill will of the two men had not stood in the way; as boys they had thirsted for one another’s blood, as men each prayed that misfortune might fall on the other, and this wind-scourged winter night from “The Interlopers” by Saki The narrator knows background information and both sides of the story.

31 Third-Person-Limited Point of View
In third-person-limited point of view, the narrator plays no part in the story knows and can tell what a single character is thinking and feeling “This is the most common pov in modern fiction.” “Remember that the main difference here is the narrator only has information on one character.”

32 Third-Person-Limited Point of View
Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the third-person-limited point of view? She grieved over the shabbiness of her apartment, the dinginess of the walls, the worn-out appearance of the chairs, the ugliness of the draperies. All these things, which another woman of her class would not even have noticed, gnawed at her and made her furious. from “The Necklace” by Guy De Maupassant

33 Third-Person-Limited Point of View
Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the third-person-limited point of view? She grieved over the shabbiness of her apartment, the dinginess of the walls, the worn-out appearance of the chairs, the ugliness of the draperies. All these things, which another woman of her class would not even have noticed, gnawed at her and made her furious. from “The Necklace” by Guy De Maupassant The narrator knows the thoughts of only one character.

34 First-Person Point of View
In first-person point of view, the narrator is a character in the story knows and can tell only what he or she thinks and feels may be reliable and trustworthy or an unreliable narrator “The character who tells the story may be an important part of the action or may be mostly an observer. The reader knows only what this character reveals about the events and characters, so the narrator’s biases, opinions, and beliefs may affect the information the reader receives.”

35 First-Person Point of View
Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the first-person point of view? The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled—but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the ideas of risk. from “The Cask of Amontillado” by EA Poe

36 First-Person Point of View
Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the first-person point of view? The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled—but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the ideas of risk. from “The Cask of Amontillado” by EA Poe The narrator uses “I” and tells his thoughts. “Remember that a character may be reliable or unreliable. How does the narrator in this excerpt suggest that he is unreliable?” (Understanding) The narrator suggests that he is overreacting. “The thousand injuries” is an exaggeration.

37 Questions Around the Wheel
Mastery List as many first and third person pronouns as you can. Interpersonal If you were making a movie of “The Interlopers” where would you place the camera? Why? Understanding Why are most fairy tales told from the omniscient point of view? Self-Expressive Imagine Romeo and Juliet told from Lady Capulet’s point of view.

38 Irony “It’s like meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife. What is that an example of?” Irony

39 What Is Irony? Irony is the contrast between expectation and reality. Three kinds of irony are verbal irony situational irony dramatic irony “Irony is the word that describes the difference between what we expect or what seems suitable and what actually happens. Imagine, for example, that the person we hire as our mayor because he ran on a platform of honesty is caught with the mission pension fund. How many of you have seen a scary movie where you are led to identify one character as the villain until almost the very end, when a previously unsuspected villain is suddenly revealed. Can you think of a movie like this?” (Interpersonal)

40 Verbal Irony In verbal irony, a speaker says one thing but means the opposite. Verbal irony is the simplest kind of irony can become sarcasm if taken to a harsh extreme “This is the easiest to recognize. In real life, a person’s tone of voice, facial expression, or body language may indicate that his or her words are not completely sincere. In fiction, identifying verbal irony is a bit trickier. Why?” “An example might be a floored prizefighter lifting his head from the canvas to say, ‘I think I’ve got him worried.’”

41 Situational Irony In situational irony, what actually happens is the opposite of what is expected or appropriate. Situational irony is often humorous may mock human plans and intentions “This is an unexpected turn of events.”

42 Situational Irony Read this sentence from Hanson W. Baldwin’s R.M.S. Titanic. . . . she was fresh from Harland and Wolff’s Belfast yards, strong in the strength of her forty-six thousand tons of steel, bent, hammered, shaped, and riveted through the three years of her slow birth. Answer the question on the slide. (Understanding) No one expected such a strong vessel to be vulnerable to sinking, yet it did. “To go back to our previous example of the mayor, when the mayor is caught with his hand in the pension fund, we have situational irony.” Explain the situational irony in this ship sinking on its first voyage.

43 Dramatic Irony Dramatic irony occurs when the reader or the audience knows something important that the character does not know. Dramatic irony adds greatly to the tension in stories, plays, and movies heightens the sense of humor in comedies and deepens the sense of dread in tragedies “This type of irony often occurs in plays, in fact that explains how it gets its name. Writers use dramatic irony to make the audience fell more involved in the story.”

44 Review Quick Check Identify each item as one of the following:
verbal irony situational irony dramatic irony After tripping over his own feet, the teen exclaims, “That was graceful!” The movie audience knows that a hostile alien is just past the door. “Don’t go in there!” one viewer yells at the screen. The guest opens his mouth to compliment the chef, but before he can speak, he burps long and loudly.

45 Review Quick Check verbal irony
Identify each item as one of the following: verbal irony situational irony dramatic irony After tripping over his own feet, the teen exclaims, “That was graceful!” dramatic irony The movie audience knows that a hostile alien is just past the door. “Don’t go in there!” one viewer yells at the screen. situational irony The guest opens his mouth to compliment the chef, but before he can speak, he burps long and loudly.

46 Questions Around the Wheel
Mastery When you are speaking to someone, what other clues, besides tone of voice, would help you recognize that someone is using verbal irony? Interpersonal “How ironic!” or “Isn’t that ironic?” are statements you may have heard. What were the circumstances? Understanding How would a story’s point of view affect your ability to recognize verbal irony? Self-Expressive Create an ironic situation and describe how it is ironic.

47 Theme “A story can excel in any number of ways—in the strength of its plot, in the reality of its characters, in the gracefulness of its language. But what often makes us remember a story long after we’ve read it is the idea on which it’s built—its theme.”

48 Many elements contribute to a work’s theme.
What Is Theme? A work’s theme is the central idea or insight about human life that it reveals. Many elements contribute to a work’s theme. characters plot Theme conflict setting

49 What Is Theme? The theme of a work of literature is its root. It
gives meaning to the work’s characters and events reveals the writer’s personal attitude toward the world and the people in it may give readers insight into life and human nature or help them realize the importance of what they already know

50 What Is Theme? A work’s theme is sometimes confused with its
subject—what the story is about plot—the events of the story moral—the rule of conduct that the story teaches These parts of a story are important, but they are not its theme. “The theme is usually not stated directly in a story. Instead, the characters act out the theme for us. Although it is usually invisible and unstated, it can be the story’s most forceful element.”

51 What Is Theme? Quick Check Identify each item as one of the following:
subject plot moral theme Listen to your elders. Three siblings go swimming in a creek even though their grandfather warns them not to. One sibling is almost swept away by the current. The story of a dangerous swim Young people’s overconfidence can put them in danger; young people often learn a lesson the hard way.

52 What Is Theme? Quick Check Identify each item as one of the following:
subject plot moral theme Listen to your elders. moral Three siblings go swimming in a creek even though their grandfather warns them not to. One sibling is almost swept away by the current. plot The story of a dangerous swim subject Young people’s overconfidence can put them in danger; young people often learn a lesson the hard way. theme

53 Discovering a Theme Identifying a work’s theme is not easy but can help the reader understand the work more fully. The theme is rarely stated outright and must be inferred. A long and complex work may present more than one theme, or insight into human life.

54 Discovering a Theme Here are some guidelines for discovering theme.
Think about the title. Consider how the protagonist changes. Pay attention to story’s conflict and how it is resolved. Consider the work as a whole.

55 “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant”
Discovering a Theme Think about the title. Readers may find clues to the theme in the first words they read, the work’s title. “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” How might these three things—a fish, a river, and a girl—affect the main character’s life? Possible Answer: Perhaps the main character has a problem with all three, or perhaps the three will somehow cause a conflict in the main character’s life. Perhaps these three things are very important to the main character.

56 Discovering a Theme Consider how the protagonist changes.
Often what the main character learns about life is the truth the writer wants to reveal to the reader. At the beginning . . . There was a summer in my life when the only creature that seemed lovelier to me than a largemouth bass was Sheila Mant. I was fourteen.

57 Discovering a Theme Consider how the protagonist changes.
Often what the main character learns about life is the truth the writer wants to reveal to the reader. At the end . . . Poor Sheila! Before the month was over, the spell she cast over me was gone, but the memory of that lost bass haunted me all summer and haunts me still I never made the same mistake again.

58 Discovering a Theme Pay attention to story’s conflict and how it is resolved. Conflict is central to most literature and often contains clues to the theme. “I think fishing’s dumb,” she said, making a face. “I mean, it’s boring and all. Definitely dumb.” . . . I would have given anything not to appear dumb in Sheila’s severe and unforgiving eyes. Possible Answer: He loves to fish, and the girl he has a crush on has just proclaimed fishing a waste of time. He must decide whether to be true to his authentic likes and dislikes or try to become what Sheila approves of. For now, at least, he intends to do whatever it takes to look good to Sheila. What conflict does the protagonist face? How does he initially respond to the conflict?

59 Discovering a Theme Consider the work as a whole.
Other elements of the story, such as setting or characters, may also contribute to the theme. “Eric said I have the figure to model, but I thought I should get an education first. I mean, it might be a while before I get started and all. I was thinking of getting my hair styled, more swept back ?” Possible Answer: Sheila’s comments reveal her to be shallow and vain, making it clear to readers that her affections are not worth the sacrifices the protagonist is willing to make to gain them. How does the development of Sheila’s subordinate character add to your understanding of the theme?

60 Stating a Theme You should use at least one complete sentence to state the theme of a work. Express the theme as a generalization about life or human nature. Do not refer to specific characters or events in the work. “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” reveals the extremes to which people will go when they are in love and reminds readers that these sacrifices often fail to win love. Note

61 Steps to Determining a Theme
Practice Choose a story that meant something to you. Use this chart to help you discover and then state the story’s theme. Compare your statement with those of other students who chose the same story. Steps to Determining a Theme What the title suggests: How the main character changes: How the conflict is resolved: What, in general, the story reveals about life and people: The story’s theme:

62 What do short stories and Kool Aid have in common?
Tying It All Together What do short stories and Kool Aid have in common? Write a one page QuickWrite on this question. “Let’s think back to how I introduced this lesson to you. On the day _____ tried my Kool Aid, you all told me that I had to have all of the ingredients to make my Kool Aid. Does anyone now know what Kool Aid and short stories have in common?” (Interpersonal/Understanding) You must have all of the elements of the short story present for it to be a short story.


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