Perrine's Literature Structure, Sound, & Sense 11th Ed. (Short Stories)

Commercial Fiction
Fiction intended solely to entertain.

Literary Fiction
Written with serious artistic intentions with hopes to broaden, deepen, and sharpen the reader’s awareness of life.

Sequence of incidents or events through which an author constructs a story.

A clash of actions, ideas, desires, or wills.

The central character in a conflict.

Any force arranged against the protagonist.

The quality in a story that makes readers ask “What’s going to happen next?” or “How will this turn out?”

An unusual set of circumstances for which the reader craves an explanation.

A position in which the protagonist must choose between two courses of action, both undesirable.

Surprise Ending
An ending that features a sudden, unexpected turn or twist.

Happy Ending
A happy ending.

Unhappy Ending
An unhappy Ending.

Indeterminate Ending
An ending in which no definitive conclusion is reached.

Artistic Unity
Everything is relevant and contributes to the meaning.

Plot Manipulation
A plot that is unjustified by the situation or characters.

Relies too heavily on chance. Also known as Deux Ex Machina.

Deux Ex Machina
Latin for “god from machine.” See: Plot Manipulation.

The occurrence of an event that has no apparent cause in previous events or in predisposition of character.

Is the chance occurrence of two events that may have a peculiar correspondence.

For literary fiction writers, the most important element of their art.

Direct Presentation
Characters are described straight out by exposition or analysis or by another character.

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Indirect Presentation
The characters are described through their actions.

Where characters’ words and actions spring from

Flat Character
Usually have one or two predominant traits; they can be summed up in a sentence or two.

Round Character
Complex and many sided; they have the three-dimensional quality of real people.

Stock Character
Stereotyped figures who have recurred so often in fiction that we recognize them at once.

Static Character
Remains essentially the same person from the beginning to the end of the story.

Developing Character
There is distinct change of character, personality, or outlook.

A moment of spiritual insight into life or into the character’s own circumstances.

Is the controlling idea or its central insight. The unifying generalization about life stated or implied by the story.

Point of View
Who tells the story.

Omniscient Point of View
The story is told in the third person by a narrator whose knowledge and prerogatives are unlimited.

Third Person Limited Point of View
The story is told in the third person, but from the viewpoint of one character in the story.

First Person Point of View
The author disappears into one of the characters, who tells the story in the first person.

Objective Point of View
The narrator disappears into a kind of roving sound camera.

Literary Symbol
Something that means more than what it suggests on the surface.

A story that has a second meaning beneath the surface, endowing a cluster of characters, objects, or events with added significance; often the pattern relates each literal item to a corresponding abstract idea or moral principle.

Transcends the bounds of known reality.

Is simply language one person uses to belittle or ridicule another.

Verbal Irony
Is a figure of speech in which the speaker says the opposite of what he or she intends to say.

Dramatic Irony
The contrast between what a character says or thinks and what the reader knows to be true.

Irony of Situation
Usually the most important kind for the fiction writer, the discrepancy is between appearance and reality, or between expectation and fulfillment, or between what is and what would seem appropriate.

Stories that try to elicit easy or unearned emotional responses.

Comment on the story and, in a manner, instruct us how to feel.

Use an immoderately heightened and distended language to accomplish their effects.

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Perrine's Literature Structure, Sound, & Sense 11th Ed. (Short Stories). (2018, Feb 15). Retrieved from

Perrine's Literature Structure, Sound, & Sense 11th Ed. (Short Stories)
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