Elements of Any Literary Work

Elements of Any Literary Work


UNIT 13: Elements of Any Literary Work
In this Unit, the following aspects will be covered:
- Introduction 
- Important Elements of any Literary Work
- Conclusion 

In literature, there are main important elements or features of narratives. These features are common to most literary narratives. They are important features because they used by many literary writers in creating literary works.

Important Elements of any Literary Work
The following are the important elements/features of literary works/narratives:
Plot. This refers to the series of events which form a story. To identify the plot, find the main events in the story, arrange them in chronological order, and then write them out as a brief paragraph.
Conflict. This is a situation in the story where thoughts, ideas, actions, events, decisions, or characters disagree or cause misunderstanding or disagreement.
Characterization. This is the writer’s process of creating characters in the story. This also involves identifying the characters in a story and analyzing their physical, emotional, and psychological traits.
Setting. This is the time, place and social conditions in which a story takes place.
Theme. This is the main idea or ideas in a story. This is also a statement or the basic idea expressed by a work of literature. The theme develops from interplay of characters and plots. A theme may be broken up into several themes of ideas.
Language. This is the way a writer uses words to create literature. It stems from choice of words, how these words are structured or arranged, and writer’s point of view to the application of figurative language.

Almost every literary work includes six or more elements shown above.
As you read a story you need to remember these features to be able to analyze the story. Pay attention to the events as they are developing within the story. At the end of your reading, write brief notes on each of the features outlined above.

These are the most common elements of any literary work. They are found almost in every literary genre; that is, in novels, short stories, plays and poems. There may be other literary elements in these literary genres but these are the most common ones.

Abrahams, M.H (1971) A Glossary of Literary Terms, Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc. New York.

Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Fourth Course with Readings in World Literature; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.

Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Sixth Course; Literature of Britain with World Classics; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.

Kinsella, K et al (2003) Prentice Hall Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes; Copper Level, Pearson, Upper Saddle River.



Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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