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Literary Terms

simileA comparison between two distinctly different things, using the word "like" or "as"
personificationA figure of speech where animals, ideas or objects are given human characteristics
fictionA literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact
symbolA person, place, thing, or an event that has meaning in itself and stands for something beyond itself as well; it can signify something else
ironyA term that suggests some sort of discrepancy between appearance and reality; says one thing and means another
biographyAn account of a person’s life written or told by another person
metaphorAn imaginative comparison between two unlike things in which one thing is said to be another thing
hyperboleAn overstatement or exaggeration
dialogueConversation between characters in a drama or narrative
science fictionFiction that deals with the influence of real or imagined science on society or individuals; many of the events recounted are within the realm of future possibility
fantasyImaginative fiction featuring esp. strange settings and grotesque characters; things happen that can not happen in real life
flashbackInterruption in the present action of the plot to show events that happened at an earlier time
point of viewThe angle or perspective from which a story is told
autobiographyThe angle or perspective from which a story is told
antagonistThe character that contends with or opposes another character
plotThe events or main story in a literary work
themeThe general idea or insight about life that a work of literature reveals
foreshadowingThe introduction of clues early in a story to suggest or anticipate significant events that will develop later
resolutionThe last part of the story when the characters’ problems are solved and the story ends
charactersThe people or animals in a work of fiction or drama
narratorThe person who tells the story
climaxThe point of highest dramatic tension or a major turning point in the action; the most emotional or suspenseful moment in story
protagonistThe main character in a literary work
alliterationThe repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of words
conflictThe struggle between persons or forces in a work of drama or fiction
settingThe time and place in which the events of a work of literature take place
dialectThe way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain geographical area or a certain group of people
nonfictionWriting that deals with real people, things, events, or places

Trailridge Middle School
Shawnee Mission, KS

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