Elements of Fiction
This lesson plan explains the elements of fiction. Students will learn about themes, settings, characters, plots, and point of view. By understanding these elements, students will understand the stories or books they read.
Elements of Fiction
When students read short stories or books, they read for enjoyment or for understanding. Reading for enjoyment is good because students will develop their reading skills.
However, if they read for understanding, they will retain more from their reading.
Students will focus on the elements of fiction: themes, settings, characters, plots, and point of view when they read for understanding.
A theme is the main idea of the story. When writers have a story idea, they develop their story around a theme. They have a specific message they want to reveal to readers.
For example, I just had an eBook published titled Short Stories for Children. The lessons that the characters in my book learn include: listening to parents, obeying parents, learning about forgiveness, learning to share, being organized, caring for your possessions, being in control of emotions, telling the truth, being honest, dealing with death and life, being aware of strangers, letting go of possessions, dealing with reality, and giving to others.
Application: When you read a story, you want to think about the theme and ask yourself these two questions: (1) What do you think the writer wants to reveal to you?
(2) How can you apply the message in your life?
A setting reveals the location of the story. A setting can take place in a house, school, castle, outer space, forest, hospital, or anywhere writers want to develop their scenes.
When you think of the setting, you want to ask yourself these questions: What is the setting like? What do you see? What colors are in the area? Is their furniture in the setting? What senses does this setting involve: taste, sight, smell, touch, or sound?
Writers use the senses in their stories because they want readers to visualize the settings.
Application: Can you visualize the setting? Does it seem to fit the story? Would you develop the setting differently?
The characters in a story can be people or animals. There is one main character in the story. This character has some kind of problem he/she experiences throughout the story.
There are other characters in the story who can either help the main character with his/her problem or hinder the main character from overcoming his/her goal.
Characters experience trials like we experience in reality. These trials can be lying, cheating, disobeying parents or teachers, stealing, or other types of problems that people go through in life.
Application: When you read your story, think about the characters, especially the main character, and see what kind of problem he/she is going through. Then think about how the main character overcomes the main problem.
After you have thought about the main character and his/her problem, think about your life. Have you experienced a similar problem?
Plots are the structure of the story. They reveal the characters and what the main character experiences throughout the story. The structure occurs in order of the events that happen to the main character. Stories can be character-driven or plot-driven.
Character-driven - The story focuses on the characters. The main character experiences a certain trial and deals with that trial throughout the story. The main character changes by the end of the story.
Plot-driven - The story focuses on the plot. The plot is what moves the story. The characters don't change in plot-driven stories.
Plots also involve dialogue and narration. Writers use these elements to develop their plots. They also reveal information about their characters such as their background and personality.
Application: As you read the story, think about the plot. Who is the main character? What trial is the main character experiencing in the story? How does the main character work through the problem? Did the main character solve the problem by the end of the story? Would you have solved the problem in a similar way to the main character?
Point of View
Point of view is the viewpoint of the story. Writers use first person point of view or third person point of view. In first person point of view, the main character tells the story. In third person point of view, the narrator tells the story.
Application: Who is telling the story? Is it the narrator or the main character?
Reading and Writing
Once students learn these elements, they will develop a better understanding of their short stories and books. Knowing these elements will also help students write short stories.
First you go over the information I have in the previous section. Then you will give the students the following worksheets. The answers are included.
Worksheet on Elements of Fiction
This worksheet covers the information in the study sheet, Elements of Fiction.
Part One - Matching - Draw a line from Column One to Column Two
Column One Column Two
1. Themes A. Where the story takes place
2. Characters B. Structure of the story
3. Settings C. First and Third Person
4. Plots D. Main idea of the story
5. Point of View E. People in the story
Part Two - True or False - Write True or False in the blanks.
1. Characters cannot be animals. ___________
2. Writers use only first person to tell their stories. ___________
3. Characters do not change in plot-driven stories. ___________
4. Plots do not reveal a character's background information. __________________
5. Themes reveal why writers write their stories. _____________
Part Three - Fill in the Blanks
1. A __________ is a specific message writers want to reveal to readers.
2. A __________ reveals the location of the story.
3. In a _____________________ story, the character changes.
4. A writer uses the ________________ to help readers visualize the ____________.
5. In a _______________________ story, the character doesn't change.
6. Plots involve _________________ and ________________.
7. Plots reveal information about _____________________.
8. ____________ can be anywhere writers want for their stories.
9. When you read the stories, you are to think about the __________________.
10. Who tells a story? _______________________ or ______________ Answers to the Worksheets
6. Dialogue and Narration
10. Narrator or Main Character
100 to 90 = A
89 to 80 = B
79 to 70 = C
69 to 60 = D
Below 60 = F
You can grade students on the total number correct over the total number of questions on the exercises.