Print Literary Terms Worksheets
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Match each word that defines a narrative technique with its correct definition. Example: A literary device that shows readers specific events that happened before the current action of the story.
Read each definition. Fill in the correct term that would best define what is being described.
Do You Know Your Terms?
Examples include: Extreme exaggeration for the purpose of adding meaning. When the reader knows something that the character doesn't. When a character says one thing but means another.
Read each definition. Then write a word or phrase on each of the lines that would best describe it.
Choose the correct answer for each question. These will all flow around the particular genre of ficition.
Every Story Has Them!
Fill in the blanks with the correct literary term for each definition. In the box below each description, briefly demonstrate your understanding of the term by giving an example of it from the reading.
Choices Authors Make
Some literary elements appear in every literary work. Others only appear when an author puts them there. The literary techniques below are all choices that an author makes.
Using Literary Terms to Talk About Stories
The following literary terms are commonly used to describe elements of storytelling. Define each term. Then find an example of each literary term in the reading and write it in the box.
Provide an example (title) of each of the following. Be sure to punctuate your answers correctly.
Identify each of the four types of conflict, and provide an example of each. Refer (by title) to books or stories that you have read.
Circle the correct answer for each question. This will give you a good quick assessment of where you are with this topic.
Literary Terms in Action
Think about the literary works you have read this semester. Write down an example of each of the following literary terms.
What are Literary Terms and How Do They Help?
Literary terms are common tools that help readers understand what's going on in a piece of writing. They give the readers an insight into the underlying ideas, characters, and themes of the author's work, giving them a deeper understanding of the piece.
As you grow as a writer, you'll encounter various narrative techniques, from simile to alliteration. While some are pretty basic-metaphor, onomatopoeia-others can be more complex and abstract, such as synecdoche and epistrophe. Though there are thousands of literary terms out there, they're all defined differently depending on who you ask. These terms have different nuances depending on the type of text (e.g., fiction, poetry, essay) you're reading or writing, so it's important to understand what these words and phrases mean in different contexts to effectively communicate about texts and write them well yourself.
This guide will help you understand what literary terms mean and how they help you engage with texts better as a reader and writer.
What are Literary Terms in Literature?
A literary term is a word or phrase that describes something about a literary work. Simply put, literary terms are words and phrases used to describe things in a literary work. A literary term will often help you determine what kind of elements are being described, whether it's an author's style, tone, or subject matter.
When reviewing the literature, these terms can help you make sense of what you read, and they may even help you connect with why they were written and how they were supposed to be interpreted.
Defining Literary Terms Helps You Better Understand Your Reading:
The language of literature can seem really strange. The terms that are specific to literature are often ones that we don't use in daily conversation. But it is important to know what they mean, as those little words can make a big difference in how you interpret a story or poem. Defining these particular techniques will help you better understand your reading, so even if you aren't an English major, take some time to familiarize yourself with these special words!
Not All Literary Terms Apply to All Genres:
Each genre has its own set of unique literary terms. For example, in poetry, you'll hear words like conceit (an idea or thought expressed with elaborate language) and alliteration (the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of two or more adjacent words).
Similarly, in a novel, you might encounter foreshadowing (hints that later events will occur), mood (how a character feels), and theme (the main idea of a piece of work).
When reading literature, it's essential to understand these terms so that you can interpret what authors are trying to say—and how they are saying it. The better you understand these concepts, the easier it will be for you to recognize them in your own writing.
How To Practice These Skills:
As with any new set of skills, narrative techniques take practice to understand.
- A great way to develop your understanding and write literary terms is by reading a wide variety of books—and then analyzing them for their use of these terms.
- Discuss one literary device per month to help you become a better writer.
- Take notes as you read! This will help cement what you've learned, and it gives you an opportunity to practice using these terms in your writing.
- Reading fiction is a great way to develop these skills, but nonfiction (especially classics) can also be useful.
Understanding literary terms can be confusing for beginners because of all those definitions, but it only takes practice to gain a good grasp of them. Learning these crucial writing terms will help you write better analyses, think more critically about literature, and have more fun reading works of fiction or poetry. With these terms in your pocket, you'll be well on your way to becoming a master reader and writer!
Project idea: When adapting stories into movies, sometimes the structure changes. Have your students compare a movie and book to identify these changes, and discuss whether they are more, less, or as effective.