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How to Analyze Fiction

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By analyzing a short story or novel, you gain a better understanding of the story. You also acquire a better appreciation of fiction and literature. And, you can learn how the writer used the elements of fiction and various literary techniques, such as simile, metaphor, and imagery to create a memorable story. Analyzing fiction will also help you learn how to write your own stories.

Here is how to analyze a work of fiction:

1. Plot. It refers to the main events that take place throughout the story.

 Questions to consider:

  • What are the series of events in the story?
  • Does the writer use flashback? If so, how?
  • Does the writer use flashforward? If so, how?
  • How does the writer create suspense?
  • What types of conflict occur throughout the story?
  • What is the turning point of the story?

 

2. Setting. It refers to the time, place, and social and historical context.

Questions to consider:

  • What is the setting in the story?
  • Does the setting function as an antagonist in the story? If so, how?
  • How does the setting contribute to the story?
  • How does the writer use setting to create a story that is believable?
  • How does the setting impact the protagonist in the story?
  • How does the setting impact the plot in the story?
  • What is the mood throughout the story? How does the setting impact the mood of the story?

 

3. Characters. It refers to the protagonist, villain, and secondary characters in the story. The writer develop a character by what the character thinks, what the character does, what the character says, what the character looks like, and by what others say about the character. All stories include a protagonist. Many stories include an antagonist or villain. Many stories also include secondary or minor characters.

Questions to consider:

  • What does the character say and do? What does their dialogue or behaviour tell you about their values, beliefs, interests, motives?
  • What does the character look like? What does this suggest about the character?
  • What conflicts does the character experience? How does the character deal with these conflicts?
  • How does the character change as the story progresses?
  • Who is the villain in the story? Why?
  • Who is the protagonist in the story? Why?

 

 4. Theme. It refers to the main idea of the story. It is the truth the writer reveals. Often, the writer doesn’t explicitly reveal the theme. Some stories don’t have a theme.

Questions to consider:

  • What was the writer’s purpose in writing the story?
  • What is the theme of the story? Is it implicit or explicit?
  • Does the theme offer a new insight into the human condition or human experience?
  • What message or lesson does the writer wish the reader to understand from the story?

 

5. Point of View. It refers to the person who is telling the story. This is the narrator of the story. For instance, the story can be told from the first-person perspective, such as the protagonist or eye witness. Or, the story can be told from the third-person perspective, which means the narrator is not a character in the story. Remember that the author and narrator are not the same. The narrator is the person who is telling the story.

Questions to consider:

  • What point of view does the writer use?
  • What does the narrator know about the characters in the story?
  • How does the point of view impact the story?
  • Does the author use point of view to reveal or conceal?
  • How does the narrator impact the story? For instance, the first-person narrator only knows what he sees or hears. Bu the third-person-omniscient narrator is all knowing.
  • Why did the author choose the particular point of view?

 

6. Imagery. It refers to the sensory images that the writer uses to develop the story. Sensory images are word pictures that appeal to one or more of the senses, such as sight, taste, smell, touch, and hearing.

Questions to consider:

  • What types of imagery does the writer use? How does it make the story believable?
  • Identify some passages where the writer uses imagery? What types of imagery does the writer use? Why does the writer use it?
  • How does the imagery affect the mood of the story?

 

7. Symbolism. The author uses a symbol to mean something other than its literal meaning. For instance, an owl can represent wisdom.

Questions to consider:

  • What sorts of symbols are used by the writer?
  • Do any characters act as symbols? Why?
  • Do elements of the story’s setting appear symbolic? Why?
  • Is a one symbol used throughout the story? Or do the symbols change as the story progresses?

 

8. Style and Tone. Style refers to the writer’s choice of language and the sentence types and structures. The tone refers to writer’s attitude toward the subject and readers.

Questions to consider:

  • What types of diction does the writer use? Slang? Formal? Profanity? How does it impact the story? How does it impact you as the reader?
  • What types of sentences does the writer use? Fragments? Simple? Complex? Rhetorical?  How does it impact the story?
  • What is the writer’s attitude toward the events in the story?
  • What is the writer’s attitude toward the readers? Condescending?  Ironic? Comic?
  • How does the tone of the story impact your reading? For instance, do you laugh?

 

9. Figurative Language. The writer uses language to mean something other than its literal meaning, in order to produce a special effect or new meaning. Popular types of figurative language are simile, metaphor, and personification. 

Questions to consider:

  • Does the writer use simile? Why is it used?
  • Does the writer use metaphor? Why is it used?
  • Does the writer use personification? Why is it used?

 

10.  Other Questions: What does the title suggest about the book? What did you enjoy about reading the book? What did you dislike about the book? Would you recommend it?

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4 Comments

  1. gina says:

    can you tell me the book resource of figurative language? thx..

  2. yoschy says:

    ths has been helpful to me on my assignment

  3. Karla says:

    I am a home education teacher and would like to use this in a study group/class this fall. May I use this article, with a citation that you authored it and your website address?

  4. Yos Mau says:

    Thanks for this blog. I am lucky to read this blog. I get advantages to analyze a novel for my thesis

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