Five Elements of a Story

"Five Things"


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"To Build a Fire" is a short story by Jack London. It was first published in 1902. Set in northern Canada, the story tells of a protagonist who must survive the harsh cold. The story is a good example of the classic "man vs. nature" conflict.

Setting isn't just about where a story takes place. It's also about when it takes place. There's a pretty big difference between New York City in 1600 and New York City in 2100.

"The Open Boat" is a short story by Stephen Crane that was first published in 1897. The story is based on Crane's experience surviving a shipwreck off the coast of Florida. Crane was stranded for 30 hours when his ship sank. He and three other men had to get to shore in a small boat. When the boat overturned, one of the men drowned.

Lemony Snicket is the pen name of author Daniel Handler. He is the author of the popular children's books called A Series of Unfortunate Events .

In the 1500s, it was much more common for authors to borrow plots, characters and themes from other authors. While William Shakespeare did indeed write Romeo and Juliet , he adapted the story from many other authors.

There are hundreds of Pokemon characters. Some of the names are strange, but they make sense. Swoobat, for example, looks like a bat. Pidove is a lot like a pigeon…or a dove.

Characters do not have to be human, but to be considered "characters" they have to have some human qualities. They have to be capable of action, thought or feeling. So a talking train engine could be a character. But a tree that doesn't talk or do anything except being a tree: that's not a character.

Harry Potter is one of the most popular characters of all time. The Harry Potter books have collectively sold more than 450 million copies. They've been translated into 67 languages!

A story isn't interesting without some sort of conflict. Not knowing how the conflict will be resolved makes us want to read more. Imagine this story: A young boy named Hairy Plotter goes to school. He does his homework. He goes to bed. The end. Would you buy a book with no conflict?

Conflicts in stories can be large. In The Lord of the Rings, we read about gory battles between all kinds of amazing creatures. But conflicts can also be smaller, or even internal. If you have to choose between obeying your parents and meeting up with your friends, that is an internal conflict.

Of the five main elements of a story, theme is the hardest to get. That's because the main idea or message of a story is usually something abstract. And authors rarely come out and state the main message. Instead they imply the theme through the other elements of the story. Themes usually explore timeless and universal ideas.

Fievel Moskowitz is the main character from the animated 1986 movie An American Tail . The movie tells the story of a family of immigrant mice that comes to America seeking a better life. At one point, Fievel gets separated from his family and must survive on his own.
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