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SH1601

Elements of Fiction
I. Fiction VS Nonfiction
 Fiction
For the novelist Toni Morisson, “fiction, by definition, is distinct from fact. Presumably it is a
product of imagination – invention – and it claims the freedom to dispense with ‘what really
happened’ or where it really happened, or when it really happened, and nothing in it needs to be
publicly verifiable although much of it can be verified.”
 Non-Fiction
It is a writing that is based on facts, real events, and real people, such as biography or history.
II. Elements of Fiction
A. Setting – it pertains to the time, place, and social context of a story.
B. Character – is a fictional person in a story, and readers’ first reactions to him are usually based
on their subjective capacity to empathize with the character’s experiences
Characters are sometimes referred as:
 Dynamic - A dynamic character is a person who changes over time, usually as a result of
resolving a central conflict or facing a major crisis. Most dynamic characters tend to be
central rather than peripheral characters, because resolving the conflict is the major role of
central characters.
 Static - A static character is someone who does not change over time; his or her personality
does not transform or evolve.
 Round - A rounded character is anyone who has a complex personality; he or she is often
portrayed as a conflicted and contradictory person.
 Flat - A flat character is the opposite of a round character. This literary personality is notable
for one kind of personality trait or characteristic.
 Stock - Stock characters are those types of characters who have become conventional or
stereotypical through repeated use in particular types of stories. Stock characters are instantly
recognizable to readers or audience members (e.g. the femme fatale, the cynical but moral
private eye, the mad scientist, the geeky boy with glasses, and the faithful sidekick). Stock
characters are normally one-dimensional flat characters, but sometimes stock personalities
are deeply conflicted, rounded characters (e.g. the "Hamlet" type).
 Protagonist - The protagonist is the central person in a story, and is often referred as the
story's main character. He or she (or they) is faced with a conflict that must be resolved. The
protagonist may not always be admirable (e.g. an anti-hero); nevertheless s/he must command
involvement on the part of the reader, or better yet, empathy.
 Antagonist - The antagonist is the character(s) (or situation) that represents the opposition
against which the protagonist must contend. In other words, the antagonist is an obstacle that
the protagonist must overcome.
Source: http://learn.lexiconic.net/characters.htm

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SH1601

C. Plot
 Exposition - It is the part of a story that talks about an important background to the readers
or audience like for instance, the setting of the story, about the characters, happenings, or
events that occur before the main plot.
 Rising Action – it is a related series of incidents in a literary plot that builds toward the
point of greatest interest. This where the conflict or problem in the story arises in dramatic
intensity.
 Climax – It is the most intense, exciting, or important event in the story.
 Falling Action – It is the part of a literary plot that occurs after the climax has been reached
and the conflict has been resolved.
 Dénouement – the final part of the plot that explains the outcome of the complex events
in the story.
D. Narrator
It is the voice that narrates the story. If the writer or author is the one who writes a story, the
narrator tells it (figurative). The narrator is the technique that writer’s use to create a particular
point of view from which they will tell the story, present the actions and shape the readers’
responses.
Three (3) kinds of Narrator
 Omniscient – it is presumed to be reliable or all knowing. This narrator exposes the
internal thoughts of the characters, emotionally detached from the actions and uses third
person pronoun – he, she, it, and they in point of view.
 First Person – the narrators report the event in the point of view of the “I” or he himself
involved in the story. It differs from the omniscient point of view for it creates greater
degree of intimacy with the readers
 Unreliable – these narrators do not possess the full understanding of the events they
narrate, and reader can see more than they do. The narrator’s lack of Awareness is
evident.
E. Style/Tone
 Style - refers to the way the writers express themselves. It depends on diction (choice
of words), syntax (grammar and sentence structure), as well as voice and rhythm.

Tone – is the manner, mood, or pervading attitude that writers establish for characters,
situations, and readers such as intimate or distant, ironic or direct, hostile or
sympathetic, formal or casual, humorous or serious, and emotional or objective.

Source: Gillespie, Sheena et al., (2005) World Literature: Connecting Nations and Culture Fourth
Edition. Pearson education Southeast Asia PTE. LTD. Philippines.

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