The Scheme of Story Analysis


Иностранные языки, филология и лингвистика

A brief account of events 5 sentences Plot - How are the events arranged - What conflict is there at the core of the story - What is the turning point - Is the ending predictable tidy troubling thought-provoking surprising. Plot is a chain of fictional events arranged in a meaningful pattern.



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The Scheme of Story Analysis

  1.  Type of story Is it a science fiction/crime/love/psychological story?

Genres (story types)

psychological story, humour story, (auto)biography, science fiction, fantasy, horror story, love story, thriller, western, crime story, parable, romance, adventure story, detective story, historical fiction, fairy story, spy story, travelogue, folk-tale, tear-jerker, whodunit, spine-chiller, ghost story, myth, anecdote, legend, joke, story with social significance.

  1.  A brief account of events (5 sentences)

  1.  Plot 

- How are the events arranged?

- What conflict is there at the core of the story?

- What is the turning point?

- Is the ending predictable/tidy/troubling/thought-provoking /surprising?


Plot is a chain of fictional events arranged in a meaningful pattern. Each link in this chain helps to build suspense and to solve the problems that the characters face. We can often gain much insight into the meaning of a story by looking at the shape of its plot.

Components of the plot (traditional model of plot development):

· Exposition — usually includes the establishment of the setting, the introduction of the theme and characters;

· Complications — follow the exposition and, as a rule, consist of several events which become tenser (the rising action) as the plot moves toward the moment of decision — the climax;

· Climax — the moment of the highest intensity (the peak of intensity), the crucial event in the story;

· Denouement (deɪˈnuː’mɒn) — the unwinding of the action (the falling action). At this point the fate of the main character is clarified. The conflict is resolved. [Final outcome, solution]

Many authors introduce certain deviations from the traditional pattern of plot development, i.e. the author may leave out one or several of the components (e.g. exposition or denouement) or rearrange the components of the plot structure (e.g. a

story may open up with the climax).

A fictional plot is usually based on a conflict — a situation or problem which a character tries to resolve. A conflict can be external a conflict between a character and outside forces (a person against another person, a person against nature, a person, against society, etc.) or internal a conflict within the character him/herself (an individual conflict revealed through the character’s thoughts, feelings, etc.). The largest part of the story will deal with the main character’s struggle to resolve this

problem or conflict hence he seeks a solution.

Although the typical fictional plot has a beginning, a middle and an end, authors may vary their patterns of narration.

Patterns of narration:

1) a straight line narrative (chronological sequence);

2) a complex structure (events are not arranged in chronological order and flashbacks are used to bring the past of the characters into the story);

3) a frame structure (there is a story within the story; the two stories contrast or parallel);

4) a circular structure (the closing event of the story returns the reader to the introductory part).

The author often uses certain techniques to creatively unfold the plot:

· Flashback: A move back in time to an earlier incident, a scene from the past inserted in the narration.

· Foreshadowing: A hint or allusion to events which will develop later in the story.

· Retardation: The withholding of information (the author holds some facts back and keeps the reader guessing).

· Trick ending: The end of a short story comes out as a complete surprise.

  1.  Setting Give examples of some elements and their function.


The setting can be defined as the place where the story happens, the time when it happens and the conditions under which the story is told. The setting of a novel or a short story is crucial to the creation of a complete work as it has a definite impact on

the character development and plot. The setting is often found in the exposition of the plot and readily establishes time and place. Frequently it plays an important role in the conflict giving credence to the rising action as a climax or turning point is


Possible elements of the setting:

  1.  Physical objects (e.g. elements of domestic interiors). Some writers provide a great amount of detail when describing their novels’/short-stories’ settings, and they do so for specific reasons.
  2.  Social and cultural environment. Some writers pay less attention to specific physical objects, but this does not mean they are not concerned with social environment.
  3.  Geographical location and landscape. Sometimes authors make time and place so essential to the narrative that they become as important as the characters themselves. 
  4.  Historical period. The novel Jazz by Toni Morrison is set in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. This cultural movement of the 1920s and early 1930s featured innovations in literature, theater, art and music. The setting Morrison creates is integral to the book, whose narrative voice echoes the loose, unpredictable rhythms of the jazz music of the time.

Possible functions of the setting:

1. Setting the story in a particular environment the author creates the necessary atmosphere.

2. Setting the story in a true-to-life environment the author increases the credibility of the characters and events in the story.

3. The setting, e.g. descriptions of nature, may function as means of expressing the emotional state of the character.

4. The setting may also enhance characterization by paralleling the characters’ mood and behavior.

5. The main function of the domestic interior as an element of the setting is individualization of the character, revealing certain features of his or her personality.

6. The setting may serve as contrasting background to the action of the story. Descriptions of peaceful and undisturbed nature may precede stormy violent action in the story, and thus help the author to take the reader by surprise.

7. The setting may function as a main force opposing the character (protagonist), if the story is based on the man-versus-nature conflict.

8. The setting often acquires a symbolic meaning and helps to reveal the central idea(s) of the story.

The setting is usually given in the exposition of the story, but very often the descriptions of the setting may be scattered throughout the whole story.

forms of presentation

The sequence of events, character collisions may be represented in a variety of ways: through narration, description, dialogue, and characterization, which are the basic forms of presentation.

  1.  Narration Label the narrator and the effect created.


Narration is the presentation of events in their development. The narration may be done in the first person (the narrator combines two functions: that of a character of a story and that of the narrator) and in the third person (the narrator does

not take part in the events).

Point of View is quite simply, who is telling the story, who is describing and commenting on the events. All literature must be narrated or recorded by someone, and an author must decide who that someone will be. The decision is an important one, since the selection of a narrator determines the perspective, or point of view, from which the story will be told, as well as the amount and kind of information the reader will be given. Once the author has chosen the point of view, he/she must then convey it to the reader and keep it consistent from beginning to end. Many writers use the protagonist (the main character) as the point of view. Others create an impartial character to narrate the story or use multiple narrators.

In discussing literature, it is most common to examine the following points of view.

1. first-person narrator: a minor character in the story

2. first-person narrator: a main character in the story

3. third-person narrator: omniscient

4. third-person narrator: objective

5. third-person narrator: limited

First Person Narrator: A character in the story who speaks in the first person voice. The first person narrator is a character in the story who can reveal his or her feelings and thoughts, or information that has been directly received by other characters.

First person point of view is divided into the following categories:

· Subjective Narrator. The point of view character gives his/her thoughts and feelings along with the events in the story.

· Objective Narrator. The point of view character tells the events only without including his/her reactions to them.

· Multiple Narrators. First person accounts by several characters.

Third Person Narrator: third person is perhaps the most common point of view. It allows the writer more freedom than any of the other points of view. It provides the most information to the reader but does so in an impersonal way which may lessen the emotional impact.

There are three basic types of third person narrators:

-Third Person Objective Narrator: A narrator, who is not a character in the story, speaks in the third person voice and can tell only what is observable through the five senses. The third person objective narrator is not a character in the story.

-Third Person Omniscient Narrator: A narrator, who is not a character in the story, speaks in the third person voice and can tell the thoughts and feelings of characters within the story. Like the third person objective narrator, the third person omniscient narrator speaks in the third person and is not a character in the story. Unlike the third person objective narrator, however, the third person omniscient narrator has knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of all characters in the story.

-Third Person Limited Narrator: A narrator is not a character in the story, speaks in the third person voice and can describe the thoughts and feelings of only one character in the story (usually the main one). This narrator is similar to first person in that the information is presented primarily through the eyes of one character.

  1.  Description How effective is the author’s language? Does the writer employ any figures of speech/emotive words? What effect do they create?


Description is a presentation of a static picture: the atmosphere, the scenery, the portrait, the interior and the like. It serves to depict the state of things in detail. It is characterized by the use of mostly compound nominal predicates. Emphasis is put on attributes, predicatives and other qualifying features.

In every literary work the writer’s attitude to the characters and events is reflected in the tone, which is conveyed through emotive-coloured lexis/ vocabulary. (Dictionary – the first meaning you find of these words is their denotation, or the most basic, literal meaning. Literature, however, communicates more than plain facts. It uses the connotations of words — ideas, associations and emotions they suggest — to influence our thoughts and feelings in more subtle ways. Connotations serve as bases for special language means of expressiveness — figures of speech)

figures of speech

There are mainly five figures of speech: simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification and synecdoche.

Some declare that in rhetoric there are four master tropes, or figures of speech: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony.

Metaphor is a form of comparison in which an idea or opinion is expressed by comparing one thing with another to show a similarity.

Simile is characterization of an object by comparing it with another object belonging to a different class of things (e.g. as boring as watching paint dry; as American as apple pie)

The major difference between the metaphor and the simile is that the simile aims at finding some point of resemblance by keeping the objects apart (a is like b) while the metaphor aims at identifying the objects (a = b).

Epithet is characterization of a person, thing or phenomenon with the help of adjectives, nouns or attributive phrases. It serves to emphasize a certain property or feature and to express the author’s attitude toward what he describes.

Irony is a figure of speech based on the simultaneous realization of two logical meanings — logical and contextual, which stand in opposition to each other. In fact, the writer says one thing but really means the opposite.

Hyperbole means deliberate exaggeration of an essential feature or property of an object, showing the author’s attitude to it (often humorous, ironic or overemotional). (e.g. I’ve told you a million times!)

Personification takes place when an inanimate object or an animal is endowed with a quality typical of a human being for a definite emotional colouring. (e. g. The cold winter wind outside was crying and whining and cursing.)

Zeugma is a stylistic device based on simultaneous realization of the literal and the transferred meanings of a word, when it is used in the same grammatical but different semantic relations to two adjacent words in the context. The zeugma often brings

forth humorous connotations. (e. g. When he met Annette, who was to be his third wife, he gave her his heart and his wallet.

Zeugma (often also called Syllepsis, or Semantic Syllepsis): where a single word is used with two other parts of a sentence but must be understood differently in relation to each. This is also called "semantic syllepsis." This type of figure is not grammatically incorrect, but creates its effect by seeming at first hearing to be incorrect, by exploiting multiple shades of meaning in a single word or phrase. (Examples: "He took his hat and his leave.",  "Miss Bolo [...] went straight home, in a flood of tears and a sedan-chair." , "Give neither counsel nor salt till you are asked for it.”)

Pun is a humorous use of a word or a phrase which has two meanings or of two words or phrases which look or sound similar. Puns are used not only in jokes but also in ads, newspaper headlines, etc. because they are eye-catching and amusing.

A homophonic pun (e.g.  phrase "Atheism is a non-prophet institution"; the joke "Question: Why do we still have troops in Germany? Answer: To keep the Russians in Czech")

A homographic pun (e.g. "You can tune a guitar, but you can't tuna fish. Unless of course, you play bass.")

Allusion is a reference to specific places, persons, literary or legendary characters or historical events. The most frequently resorted to sources are mythology and the Bible. The use of allusions presupposes knowledge of the fact, thing or person

alluded to and calls forth associations from the reader’s thesaurus. (e.g. He says his mother-in-law is a perfect Gorgon.)

Meiosis in rhetoric is a euphemistic figure of speech that intentionally understates something or implies that it is lesser in significance or size than it really is. (e.g."The Troubles" a name for decades of violence in Northern Ireland. "The Pond" for the Atlantic Ocean ("across the pond"). Similarly, "The Ditch" for the Tasman Sea, between Australia and New Zealand. "The Recent Unpleasantness," used in the southern United States as an idiom to refer to the American Civil War and its aftermath.)

Euphemism is a generally innocuous (not harmful or offensive) word or expression used in place of one that may be found offensive or suggest something unpleasant. (e.g. downsizing is a euphemism for “cuts”)

Dysphemism is an expression with connotations that are offensive either about the subject matter or to the audience, or both. (e.g. loony bin for “mental hospital”)

Metonymy  is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept. (e.g. "Wall Street" is often used metonymously to describe the U.S. financial and corporate sector, while "Hollywood" is used as a metonym for the U.S. film industry).

Metonymy—a figure of speech in which a term that denotes one thing is used to refer to a related thing.

Synecdoche (sɪˈnɛkdək) is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something, or vice versa. (e.g. An example is referring to workers as hired hands)

A part referring to the whole (pars pro toto)

  1.  Referring to people according to a single characteristic: "the gray beard" representing an older man or "the long hair" representing a hippie.
  2.  Describing a complete vehicle as "wheels", or a motorcycle as handlebars
  3.  Referring to people by a particular body part. For example, "head count", "counting noses", or "all hands on deck!", or "eyeballs" observing adverts. One comedian recognized synecdoche without naming it, by giving the following joke: "Don't you wish body parts were removable, so that when your girlfriend says, 'get your ass out of bed,' you could just hand it to her and say, 'here, now leave me alone!'" In this case, where "ass" is being used to refer to the whole body.
  4.  Describing a small portable radio as a "transistor" (though that may simply be an abbreviation for "transistor radio"), or a CRT-based television receiver as "the tube"
  5.  Saying bubbles or bubbly to refer to Champagne or any other sparkling wine
  6.  "Arabian sands" to refer the Arabian deserts.

A general class name used to denote a specific member of that or an associated class

  1.  "the good book", or "The Book" for the Bible ("Bible" itself comes from the Greek for "book")
  2.  "truck" for any four-wheel drive vehicle (as well as long-haul trailers, etc.)
  3.  "He's good people". (Here, the word "people" is used to denote a specific instance of people, i.e., a person. So the sentence would be interpreted as "He's a good person".)
  4.  "John Hancock" used in the United States, for the signature of any person
  5.  A genericized trademark, for example "Coke" for any variety of cola (or for any variety of soft drink, as in the southern United States), "Band-Aid" for any variety of adhesive bandage, or "Styrofoam" for any product made of expanded polystyrene, or "Xerox machine" for any type of photocopier machines.

The material that a thing is (actually, historically, or supposedly) made of referring to that thing

  1.  "brass" for brass instruments, or the shell casings of bullet cartridges.
  2.  "cement" for concrete, cement being just the binder in concrete
  3.  "flint" (the sparking bit in a lighter) for ferrocerium (which is not made of flint)
  4.  "glasses" for spectacles
  5.  "irons" for shackles placed around a prisoner's wrists or ankles to restrict his movement
  6.  "ivories" for a piano
  7.  "lead" for bullets
  8.  "lead" for the graphite core of a pencil
  9.  "pigskin" for an American or Canadian football
  10.  "plastic" for a credit card
  11.  "rubber" for a condom
  12.  "silver" for tableware, cutlery or other dishes that were once made of silver metal
  13.  "steel" for a sword
  14.  "strings" for string instruments
  15.  "threads" for clothing
  16.  "tin" for a container made with tin plating
  17.  "wax" or "vinyl" for a vinyl record (successor to wax phonograph cylinders)
  18.  "willow" for a cricket bat
  19.  "wood" for a type of club used in the sport of golf

A container is used to refer to its contents

  1.  "barrel" for a barrel of oil
  2.  "keg" for a keg of beer

Alliteration is a stylistic literary device identified by the repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of multiple words, or the repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase (e.g. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers)

Onomatopoeia (/ˌɒnɵmætəˈp.ə/ is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. (e.g. Water: drip, drizzle, blooper, splash, squirt. Voice: giggle, chatter, mumble, murmur, growl)

1 Human vocal sounds,

2 Sounds made by human actions

3 Words for people named after sounds

4 Sounds made by devices or other things

5 Things named after sounds

6 Animal and bird names

7 Animal and bird noises

8 Music groups or terms

9 Works and characters named after sounds

10 Sounds in fiction

  1.  Characters 

-Categorize the characters (major/minor/static/dynamic/complex/simple).

-How does the author reveal what his characters are like? Is it through their statements and thoughts/the opinion of other characters/their actions/their names, environment, or does the author say directly what the characters are like?

-Does the author employ implicit or explicit characterization?

-Give examples of some personality traits attributable to the characters and provide evidence from the text.


Characterization is used to present a character’s personality. We come to know the characters in the short story through the indirect method of 1) physical description, 2) the character’s thoughts, feelings and words, 3) the comments and reactions of others, and 4) the actions of the character — indirect characterization; and the direct method of the author’s stated opinion about the character — direct characterization.

A person in a short story is called a character. The person around whom the conflict revolves is called the main character. Most stories contain one or more main characters and several minor characters. The hero of the story who is faced with a conflict is the protagonist while the villain of the story, the person who causes the conflict is the antagonist.

Character Development is the change in the person from the beginning to the ending of a story. We say the character who changes in personality or attitude is a dynamic character, those that remain the same are referred to as static characters. A round character is a character with a fully developed, complex, even contradictory personality. A flat character is a character with little depth or complexity, who may be described in one or two phrases. A foil character is a minor character highlighting

certain features of a major character usually through contrast. The author’s mouthpiece is a character, expressing the author’s view point as to the problems raised in the story and sharing his ideas and set of values.

Dialogue is the speech of two or more characters who address each other. When analyzing the speech, be alert to: markers of official style, hesitation pauses, false start (they create verisimilitude* and may indicate some features of the speaker’s character); emotional state; words denoting attitudes (hate, adore, despise), intensifiers (very, absolutely, etc.); educational level: bookish words, rough words, slang, vulgarisms, deviations from the standard; regional and dialectal speech; character’s occupation; speaker’s idiolect.

*Verisimilitude - believability of a narrative—the extent to which a narrative appears realistic, likely, or plausible

A helping hand:

the central/main/major character

the protagonist/the antagonist

the hero/heroine

the villain

a foil — to serve/act as a foil to…

the author’s mouthpiece

a simple/flat character

a complex/well-rounded character

moral/mental/physical/spiritual characteristics

direct/indirect characterization

to reinforce characterization

to contribute to characterization/individualization

to depict/portray/describe/reveal/disclose/a character

to evaluate/assess/rate/judge a character’s actions/words/decisions/set of values

to share a character’s emotions

to arouse warmth/affection/compassion/admiration/resentment/antipathy,etc.

  1.  Message and theme

-Identify the theme of the story. Is it about love/friendship/parents’ love for their children/a person’s quest for happiness/bullying/sense of life/trials of life/ crime and punishment?

-What is the central idea of the story?

-What message does the author try to get across to the reader in your opinion?


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