Reference list of Literary Terms for Middle School students

alliteration  - the repetition of similar initial consonant sounds in order to create a
      musical or rhythmic effect, to emphasize key words or to imitate sounds.
      Example:  â€œHe was reluctant to return to the room he called home.â€�

allusion - a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work
         of art, often used to help make a comparison.

biography - a form of non-fiction in which a writer tells the life story of another
         person.

character trait – the quality of a character;  what a character is like.

climax – the highest point of action in a story, often the turning point.

direct characterization – the writer directly states the character’s traits or
     characteristics.

dynamic character – a character who changes over the course of a story

external conflict – a problem or struggle between a character and an
      outside force:
          character vs. character
          character vs. group
          character vs. nature
          character vs. society
          character vs. fate

fable  - a brief story, usually with animal characters, that teaches a lesson or
       a moral.

fiction – writing that tells about imaginary characters and events.

flashback - a section in a literary piece that interrupts the sequence of events in
        order to relate an earlier incident or set of events.

foreshadowing – an author’s use of hints or clues to give a reader an idea of what
          may happen next.

free-verse  -  poetry that has irregular lines and may or may not rhyme.


generalization – a vague or indefinite statement that is made to cover many cases.
            Example:  â€œAll human beings hope for something.â€�

hyperbole – use of extreme exaggeration.

idiom  - a word or phrase which means something different from what it
         says – it is usually a metaphor.  An idiom is an expression peculiar to a
         certain  group of people and/or used only under certain circumstances.

imagery – words or phrases that appeal to one or more of the five senses and help
         to create a vivid description for the reader.

indirect characterization – the writer allows the reader to draw his/her conclusions
         as to what a character is like, based on the appearances, words, actions, and
          interactions with other characters.

inference – a conclusion drawn by the reader based on available information.

internal conflict – a problem within a character  (character vs. self).

irony - a situation where the opposite of what is expected to occur or exist does
          occur or exist.

metaphor  -  a figure of speech in which something is described as if it were
         something else;  a comparison made without using “likeâ€� or “asâ€�.

mood – the atmosphere or feeling an author creates within the piece of writing.

moral – a lesson taught by a literary work.

motivation – a reason that explains or partially explains a character’s thoughts,
         feelings, actions, or speech.