Figurative Language & Literary Terms
Simile- Compares two things with the words “like” or “as.”
Ex. The little boy was as quiet as a mouse.
Ex. The sun is like a yellow ball of fire in the sky.
Metaphor- Compares two things without using the words “like” or “as.”
Ex. The little girl was a mouse as she squeaked through the room.
Ex. The sun is a yellow ball of fire in the sky.
Alliteration- When the beginning sound is repeated in several words.
Ex. She sells seashells at the seashore.
Ex. Samantha soared down the street on her sleek skateboard.
Onomatopoeia- A word that sounds like the noise or action it is describing.
Ex. Buzz, hiss, roar, woof, zoom
Hyperbole- An exaggeration.
Ex. The room contained a mile-high stack of books.
Ex. You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Idiom- An expression that doesn’t mean exactly what it says.
Ex. It is raining cats and dogs.
Ex. Hold your horses – I’m coming!
Personification- When you make a nonhuman object act or seem like a human.
Ex. The wind whispered my name.
Ex. The sun smiled at me.
Imagery- Vivid description that includes details that appeal to the 5 senses
(seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling).
Ex. The hot pink frosting sat atop the golden yellow cupcake.
Ex. The sweet smell of freshly baked apple pie filled the air.
Allusion- A reference to well-known people, places, events, or literary works.
Ex. Harriet Tubman was called the Moses of her time.
Ex. I was surprised his nose wasn’t growing like Pinocchio’s!
Analogy- It shows how two things are similar, but is a more complex argument.
Pun- A play on words that have the same sound, but have different meanings.
Irony- Language that means the opposite of what the words say. The exact opposite of what you would expect to happen.
Symbolism- An object or action that means something more than its literal meaning.
Theme- The message or lesson that the story teaches.
Foreshadowing- Giving hints or clues of what is to come later in the story.
Flashback- A scene that interrupts the present action and flashes back to the past.
Flashforward- A scene that interrupts the present action and shifts into the future.
Tone- The author’s attitude/feelings about the subject of his/her writing.
Mood- The feeling a text arouses in the reader.
Denotation- The dictionary definition of a word.
Connotation- The ideas and feelings associated with the word.
Characterization- the process writers use to create and develop characters
Direct Characterization- The writer direct states or describes the character traits.
Indirect Characterization- The writer reveals the character traits through the character’s (and other characters’) words, actions, and
thoughts. [make an inference]
STEAL- The methods authors use to SHOW indirect characterization; Speech, Thoughts, Effects on Characters, Actions, and Looks.
Character traits- qualities that make each character unique;
Examples: dependable, smart, stubborn
Physical traits- adjectives that describe a character's outer appearance.
Internal Conflict- A struggle or problem inside a character’s mind
External Conflict- A struggle or problem occurring outside the character’s mind; a problem with another character, nature, society, or a force beyond his/her control
Character- a person or animal who takes part in the action of a literary work
Protagonist- The main character or hero of a story.
Antagonist- The character who works against the protagonist.
Dynamic Character- A character that changes during the story.
Static Character- A character that stays the same throughout the story.
Round Character- A character with various characteristics or traits; we know a lot about them.
Flat Character- A character with limited characteristics or traits; we know little about them.
Foil Characters- Characters who contrast with each other. (opposites)
Point of View- The view from which the story is being told.
First person- One of the characters tells the story. There is not a narrator. Key Words: I, me, my.
Second person- The narrator uses the pronoun "you" to address the reader directly. Key Words: You, your.
Third person limited- Mostly told from the main character's point of view; the reader only knows the feelings and thoughts of one character. Key Words: he, she, it, they, and so on.
Third person omniscient- Omniscient means "all knowing." The narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of every character. Key Words: he, she, it, they, and so on.
Dialogue- A conversation between two or more characters in a story.
Monologue- A long speech delivered by one character in a story. It often reveals a character's private thoughts and feelings.
Plot- The organized pattern or sequence of events that make up a story.
Exposition – Inciting Incident – Rising Actions – Climax – Falling Actions – Resolution
Exposition- Introduces the characters and setting.
Inciting Incident- First event in the story; introduces the conflict and rising action.
Rising Actions- Adds complications to the story; reader is getting more interested.
Climax- The high point of the story with the most tension or excitement.
Falling Actions- Loose ends are tied up; conflict is being resolved.
Resolution- The outcome of the story.
Setting- the location and time in which a story takes place.
Conflict- problem or struggle between opposing forces.
Internal Conflict- the type of conflict that exists when the mind of a character, such as when one has to make a difficult decision or is dealing with a personal problem.
Character vs. Self
External Conflict- the type of conflict that exists between a character and an outside force.
Character vs. Character; Character vs. Society; Character vs. Nature
Drama- a story told in dialogue by performers in front of an audience
Comedy- a form of drama that has a happy ending, and often features normal characters in funny situations. Comedies can be written to entertain, but they can also point out the faults of a society.
Tragedy- a form of drama that contains a series of events that lead to the downfall of the main character. This character can be an average person but is often a person of great significance, like a king or a heroic figure.
Dramatic drama- a word that is often used to describe plays that address serious subjects.
Stage Directions- sets of bracketed information that describe the scenery and how the characters should move and speak.