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Elements of Fiction


Characters are the people, animals, or even aliens in the story. You have main characters (protagonist)
and secondary characters. Characters are either flat or round.

Flat characters – don’t play important roles in the story. They don’t grow and are identified by one or
two traits.

Round characters – play an important role in the story. They are complex, dimensional, and well-
developed. They often grow and change by going through a life-changing experience as the story


Setting is where and when the story takes place. It includes the immediate surroundings of the
characters, time of day, weather, time of year, historical period, and geographical location.

Setting can work as a main force that the characters encounter, like a tornado or flood, or a setting can
play a minor role such as setting the mood. The setting can reveal something about the main character
as they function in that place and time.


Plot is the order of events in a story.

The plot usually has five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. It looks like
a pyramid.

Exposition is an introduction to the characters, time, and problem. The exposition moves into rising
action a problem.

Rising action includes the events the main character encounters. Each event, developed in separate
scenes, makes the problem more complex.

Climax is the turning point in the story. It is usually one event with the greatest intensity and
uncertainty. The main character must deal with the problem at this point.

Falling action includes the events that unfold after the climax.

Resolution provides closure to the story. It ties up loose ends in the story.

Conflict is the struggle between two things in a story. The main character has conflict with the
antagonist. The conflict can be one of six kinds:

- Character vs. character

- Character vs. nature/natural forces
- Character vs. society/culture
- Character vs. machine/technology
- Character vs. God
- Character vs. themselves

Point of view:

Stories are usually told in 1 of 2 points of view:

- First-person point of view

- Third-person point of view

First-person point of view means a character in the story tells the story. The narrator may be the
protagonist. Writing in 1st person point of view brings the reader closer to the story.

Third-person point of view means the narrator is not in the story. The narrator is not a character. It also
distances the readers from the story because of pronouns like he, she, it, him, her, and they. There are 2
ways for 3rd-person point of view to be done:

- Third person limited: the narrator is only in one character’s thoughts.

- Third person omniscient: narrator has unlimited ability to be in many characters’ thoughts.


The theme is not the plot of the story. It is the underlying truth that is being conveyed in the story.
Themes can be universal so they are understandable by readers regardless of their culture. Common
themes include coming of age, circle of life, prejudice, greed, good vs. evil, beating the odds etc.


Tone is the author’s implicit attitude toward the reader, subject, and/or the people, places, and events
in a story as revealed by the elements of the author’s style. Tone can be serious or ironic, sad or happy,
private or public, angry or affectionate, bitter or nostalgic etc.