The Seven Key Elements of Fiction

1.  CHARACTER…There are two meanings for the word character:
1) The person in a work of fiction.
2) The characteristics of a person.

Persons in a work of fiction Antagonist and Protagonist
o One character is clearly central to a story with all major events having some connection to this character;
o She/he is the PROTAGONIST.
o The character in opposition to the main character is called the ANTAGONIST.

Characters are…
1.  Individual – round, many sided and complex personalities.
2.  Developing – dynamic, many sided personalities that change (for better or worse) by the end of the story.
3.  Static – Stereotypes; they have one or two characteristics that never change and are often over-emphasized.
2.  THEME…The theme of a fable is its moral.  The theme of a parable is its teaching.  The theme of a piece of fiction is its view about life and how people behave.
3.  PLOT A plot is a causal sequence of events, the “why” for the things that happen in the story.  The plot draws the reader into the characters’ lives and helps the reader understand the choices that the characters make.
Narrative tradition calls for developing stories with particular pieces -plot elements – in place.
1. Exposition is the information needed to understand a story.
2. Complication is the catalyst that begins the major conflict.
3. Climax is the turning point in the story that occurs when characters try to resolve the complication.
4. Resolution is the set of events that bring the story to a close.
5.  POINT OF VIEW Remember, someone is always between the reader and the action of the story.  That someone is telling the story from his or her own point of view.  This angle of vision, the point of view from which the people, events and details of a story are viewed, is important to consider when reading a story.

Types of Point of View:….

Objective Point of View
With the objective point of view, the writer tells what happens without stating more than can be inferred from the story’s action and dialogue.  The narrator never discloses anything about what the characters think or feel, remaining a detached observer.

Third Person Point of View
Here the narrator does not participate in the action of the story as one of the characters, but lets us know exactly how the characters feel. We learn about the characters through this outside voice.

First Person Point of View

In the first person point of view, the narrator does participate in the action of the story.  When reading stories in the first person, we need to realize that what the narrator is recounting might not be the objective truth.  We should question the trustworthiness of the accounting.

Omniscient and Limited Omniscient Points of View
A narrator who knows everything about all the characters is all knowing, or omniscient.


Writers describe the world they know.  Sights, sounds, colors and textures are all vividly painted in words as an artist paints images on canvas.  A writer imagines a story to be happening in a place that is rooted in his or her mind.  The location of a story’s actions, along with the time in which it occurs, is the setting.
Setting is created by language.  How many or how few details we learn is up to the author.  Many authors leave a lot of these details up to the reader’s imagination.
a)  place – geographical location.  Where is the action of the story taking place?
b)  time – When is the story taking place? (historical period, time of day, year, etc.)
c)  weather conditions – Is it rainy, sunny, stormy, etc?
d)  social conditions – What is the daily life of the characters like? Does the story contain local colour (writing that focuses on the speech, dress, mannerisms, customs, etc. of a particular place)?
e)  mood or atmosphere – What feeling is created at the beginning of the story?  Is it bright and cheerful or dark and frightening?


Conflict is the essence of fiction.  It creates plot.  The conflicts we encounter can usually be identified as one of four kinds.
Human versus Human Conflict that pits one person against another…….Human versus Nature
This involves a run-in with the forces of nature.  On the one hand, it expresses the insignificance of a single human life in the cosmic scheme of things.  On the other hand, it tests the limits of a person’s strength and will to live……Human versus Society
The values and customs by which everyone else lives are being challenged.  The character may come to an untimely end as a result of his or her own convictions.  The character may, on the other hand, bring others around to a sympathetic point of view, or it may be decided that society was right after all.
Human versus Self
Internal conflict.  Not all conflict involves other people.  Sometimes people are their own worst enemies.  An internal conflict is a good test of a character’s values.

7.  TONE…In literature, tone is the emotional colouring or the emotional meaning of the work and provides an extremely important contribution to the full meaning.  In spoken language, it is indicated by the inflection of the speaker’s voice. The emotional meaning of a statement may vary widely according to the tone of voice with which it is uttered; the tone may be ecstatic, incredulous, despairing, resigned, etc.

Tags : Communication Arts
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