ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Home Schooling & Life Experience Education

Elements of Fiction

Updated on June 27, 2015

Understanding and Writing About Literature

Every story has the elements of fiction whether it is a short story, a novel, a play, a movie, or even a television sit-com. The story you told your husband at dinner last night probably had these elements as well.

And your child, even if he has not formally studied the elements of fiction, has already internalized many of the elements of fiction merely from exposure to stories, television, books, and drama. When it is time to introduce the literary terms of character, plot, climax, setting, conflict, and point of view, be sure to connect the ideas to the stories he already knows.

It's not hard to understand the elements of fiction, and a strong foundation in these elements is the cornerstone of writing literary analysis or even just a simpler book report. Furthermore, competence with literary elements is always part of reading scope and sequence charts for most all grade levels.

Weekly Reader Let's Write a Great Book Report
Weekly Reader Let's Write a Great Book Report

Introducing the Elements of Fiction

Plot, Setting, and Character

Like anything you teach, keeping concepts in context is important. So I suggest you introduce the elements of fiction in relation to a book you've recently read with your children. Here is how I first formally introduced my daughter, then 10 years old and in fifth grade, to the elements of fiction.

At the recommendation of a fellow homeschool mom, I bought Writing A Great Book Report from Weekly Reader Publishing at Currclick. (At $5, I thought I really couldn't lose!) I like that it's an e book so that I can reprint another copy of the pages for use a second or third time.

It turned out to be a great step by step introduction to the elements of fiction and a guide for writing a book report. My daughter really enjoyed working through the pages, making notes about her novel Bud, Not Buddy. Let's Write A Great Book Report includes character, setting, and plot. No other elements of fiction are mentioned, so it is an easy first activity.

NOTE: If your child has already been writing about the elements of literature, you may find this resource too simplistic. I used it as a first time exposure and it was very easy to work through. Be sure to check the preview at Currclick to make sure this is just right for your child's level. It is designed for 3rd - 4th grade.

The Elements of Fiction - Compared to Vegetable Soup

When I taught eighth grade language arts in a public school, I came up with this visual aid to help my students remember the various elements of fiction. The first letter of each element is also the first letter of an ingredient in vegetable soup.

Soup Ingredients

C - Carrot/Character

P - Pepper/Plot

S - Salt/Setting

T - Tomato/Theme

P - Potato/Point of View

C - Corn/ Conflict

Just like good vegetable soup has lots of different ingredients, literature is full of the ingredients of fiction. You can use the printables here, or have your child make her own like my daughter did.

Cards or Banners

For the entire set of elements of fiction soup-themed printables click HERE. It includes the pages pictured above and below plus many more.

flashcards, labels, or minibooks & notebooking pages

Elements of Literature Printables - Prewriting, Book Report Forms, and More

Here is a variety of free printables that can complement your study of the elements of fiction.

Literary Elements - Activities for plot, setting, character, theme, conflict, point of view, and more.

Independent Reading Management Kit: Literary Elements: Reproducible, Skill-Building Packs—One for Each Literary Element—That Engage Students in Meaningful and Structured Reading Response Activities
Independent Reading Management Kit: Literary Elements: Reproducible, Skill-Building Packs—One for Each Literary Element—That Engage Students in Meaningful and Structured Reading Response Activities

Designed for classroom use in grades 4-8, this book is easily adaptable to homeschool use. Each of these six literary elements --setting, plot, character, conflict, theme, point of view-- has nine different activity options to give a student lots of creative freedom while providing clear instructions and even reproducible templates in many cases.

Besides the six elements of fiction, there is another section called Author's Style that goes into poetic devices such as metaphor, personification, and alliteration.

You can assign your child specific activities or give him the option to choose. This book is full of flexible ideas that can be used over and over again with different books over several years of schooling.

 

Implementing the Independent Reading Management Kit

I gave the book to my daughter as she started reading a new novel -- Don't You Know There's a War On? by Avi --and assigned her

one activity from each of these sections: setting, plot, character and theme

and

her choice of one activity from either point of view or conflict.

Activity One: Setting

First my daughter chose a setting activity from the choices. She created a (time) travel packet for the setting of her book. The packet included a detailed map, a brochure for a hotel, notices about possible blackouts, ration cards, and movie tickets.

Each item in the packet was based on facts learned from the book, and in looking over her work, I realized that not only was she outlining the setting of the book, but she was also including a lot of historical fact from the time period of World War 2.

Activity Two: Theme

For theme, my daughter chose to create a jigsaw puzzle that states the theme.

Activity Three: Point of View

Sprite chose to re-write a scene in the book from the perspective of another character.

Activity Four: Character

This is a reproducible page from the Scholastic book. She made a report card on the main character, Howie.

Going Deeper

with literary analysis

Once your child has a good grasp of the main elements of fiction and can discuss them in relation to a specific novel, you can go deeper with some of these ideas and resources.

Start with a quality reference such as the Write Source 2000 or this free glossary of literary terms (suitable for middle school).

Deepen your understanding of CHARACTER by learning about these types of characters:

  • round
  • flat
  • dynamic
  • static
  • antagonist
  • protagonist
  • foil

Learn how to write a character analysis.

Using this Character Traits Graphic Organizer may be helpful in the process.

Or better yet, Make your own customized character graphic organizer with these simple directions.

Take your understanding of PLOT farther by diagramming:

  • exposition
  • rising action
  • climax
  • resolution

Online Helps for Elements of Fiction

If your child benefits from online activities, try these links for kid-friendly learning experiences.

More Helps for Literary Elements - Elements of Fiction

Awesome Hands-on Activities for Teaching Literary Elements
Awesome Hands-on Activities for Teaching Literary Elements

If you prefer an

instant download, this book is also available at CurrClick in Enhanced eBook format.

 
Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: How to Teach What Really Matters About Character, Setting, Point of View, and Theme
Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: How to Teach What Really Matters About Character, Setting, Point of View, and Theme

If you prefer an

instant download, this book is also available at CurrClick in eBook format.

 

Guestbook

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      inkserotica 7 years ago

      Just a quick note from a Squidoo Greeter! Excellent lens :) Love the downloads! 5*

    • Louis Wery profile image

      Louis Wery 7 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Excellent lens. Helps us adults, too! Many thanks.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      ¨¨¨°º©©º° This lens has been blessed! °º©©º°¨¨¨

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 6 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Wonderful and creative! Your kids are lucky to have you.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 6 years ago

      This is a helpful lens for me as a writer. It's easy to get caught up in the story while writing and forget the basic elements.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Another great lens. I added it on Homeschool Fun.

    • profile image

      FictionWritingChick 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens. Wonderful refresher on the basics :)

    • profile image

      FictionWritingChick 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens. Wonderful refresher on the basics :)

    • profile image

      FictionWritingChick 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens. Great place to refresh your memory on the fundamentals. :)

    • profile image

      FictionWritingChick 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens. Great place to refresh your memory on the fundamentals. :)

    • profile image

      FictionWritingChick 6 years ago

      @FictionWritingChick: Sorry about the multiple posts. For some reason it told me that my comment didn't get in the first time and I can't find a way to take it down. :(

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      Great presentation

    • bbudoyono lm profile image

      bbudoyono lm 6 years ago

      It's a very informative and useful lens. I write a novel so I need it. I owe you for this. Thanks a million.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      Wonderful activities for teaching kids about fiction!

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

      thank you for such a comprehensive list of resources you've gathered here! cheers

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Nice discussion of the elements of fiction. Your personal comments should prove helpful for those seeking this information.

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      This is a wonderful teaching resource -- I especially like how you linked the elements of fiction with soup ingredients. Genius! :) My aunt homeschools and I will be sending her your website. ~Cheers~

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      another wonderful lens a d another Angel blessing - featured on http://www.squidoo.com/creative-writing-on-squidoo...

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 6 years ago from Ljubljana

      Well written, very imaginative and creative as a fiction writing should be. Thanks for zorlens.

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 5 years ago

      Love the activities you used

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Very nice! You seemed to have covered it all here. This is a great refresher for adults, too.

    • Tonto Murray profile image

      Tonto Murray 5 years ago

      Cool, helpful lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Enjoyed reading this well written and informative lens. Blessed.

    • profile image

      gosmart 5 years ago

      Great lens. Thanks!

    • yano jl profile image

      yano jl 5 years ago

      Good stuff Jimmie - 1 SquidLike for you. I have also enjoyed the writings and teachings of Joseph Campbell; more specifically his concept of the famous "Hero's Journey"; a plot structure found in so many common titles (like StarWars, for example).

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This lens was enjoyed by this reading teacher. You have done a great service to many by providing us with useful information. Thank you.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      The essentials, you have to have good characters that aren't one dimensional and a setting to help carry out the plot.

    • duslan profile image

      duslan 5 years ago

      I love these ideas! I saved the soup story elements set and will be using it with my students today!

    • Digory LM profile image

      Digory LM 4 years ago

      Very nice. Thanks.

    • mcsburlea profile image

      mcsburlea 4 years ago

      this was super fun to read

    • HattieMattieMae profile image

      HattieMattieMae 2 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      very nice techniques.

    Click to Rate This Article