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Creative Nonfiction

The Elements of Literary Genres

They are the features of any spoken or written literature distinguished from literary techniques. Plot, theme, characters, point of view, setting, conflict, and tone are literary elements.

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Colonial mentality among Filipinos penetrates fashion, education, entertainment, lifestyle, technology, and industry. It has been a product of the historical experiences from the era of the Spaniards to the Americans. The colonization of the Philippines brought formidable influences in terms of cultural and material heritage resulting to cultural ambiguity or weakness. This makes Filipinos extraordinarily vulnerable to the extensive acceptance of western mass culture. What are the indices that colonial mentality still thrive among us Filipinos? On the other hand, is it worth patronizing glowing, luminous western ideas?

The literary model is an example of a short story under fiction. It was published by Kushwant Singh in 1989 under his work The Collected Stories. It tells the story of an Indian man educated in Europe who tried to adopt an upper English culture. He was introduced as someone who is ashamed of his Indian heritage as he tries to speak British and dresses like a high-ranking British official. The most important event happened when he and his wife traveled via train as he tried to impress British soldiers through his Englishman sangfroid but ended up being thrown out of the train.

The story contains the literary elements, or the necessary constituents or smaller parts of a literary piece. They are the features of any spoken or written literature distinguished from literary techniques. Plot, theme, characters, point of view, setting, conflict, and tone are literary elements. These elements help in the discussion, understanding, and appreciation of a work of literature. They are embedded in the author’s craft and understood and appreciated by the readers through critical analysis of literary criticism. In essence, literary elements deal with the W’s and H of literature.

Plot

The plot tells what happens in the story. It relates the chain of events through different stages revealed in the story arc: exposition or the beginning where the conflict is introduced; rising action or all the actions leading to the climax, pivotal or turning point of the story; denouement or falling action and ending or resolution.

Character

Character refers to the person in a work of fiction and his characteristics. He/She could be a protagonist or the central character to a story and the antagonist or the opposing character to the main character. Characterization gives the reader details about the characters involved which include physical appearance, line of thinking, feeling, actions, and reactions to events. Moreover, characters to be effective should resemble, a real-life persona who can either be complex, dynamic, or stereotypical. Furthermore, a foil is a character that is in contrast to the main character.

Theme

Theme is the central idea of a literary work which can be termed as morals, insights, or values implied. It is not intended to preach or teach but it is something extracted from other literary elements and techniques like the structure, plot, characters, style of narration, patterns, and symbols. In short, it is the underlying truths and realities of life consciously and unconsciously created by the author and realized by the readers.

Setting

Setting pertains to the place, time, mood, atmosphere, weather, and social conditions of a story. Authors use sounds and visual images to describe the setting. The setting helps bring out the mood or backdrop or introduces the conflict of the story. Setting could be dynamic or static.

Furthermore, conflict means the complication in a story. The plot is created through the conflict. As such, the bloodline of an effective plot is an outstanding conflict. The complications could be in a form of struggle, disagreement, war, verbal tussles, etc. However, conflict can be (a) man versus man, where a character is pitted against other human characters; (b) man versus nature, where a character involves man against the forces of nature and the universe; (c) man versus society, where conventions, mores or culture challenges man and (d) man versus himself, or an internal struggle happening within a character.

Point of View

Point of view takes the angle of how the story is narrated. It is from the angles that the reader views the people, events, and details of the story. An objective point of view is an angle where the writer narrates what happens without detailing too much about what the character’s feelings and thinking. The author is a detached observer. On the other hand, the narrator in the third person point of view is not a participant in the story but reveals the feelings and line of thinking of the characters. The third-person point of view is an outside voice of the story. In contrast, the narrator of the first-person point of view is a participant in the story. Moreover, an omniscient point of view narrates everything about the characters but a limited omniscient point of view gives the angles from a story from a limited character.

Tone

Tone is an element of the story that pertains to the emotional color and meaning of a story. It evokes varied feelings derived from tone of voice or inflections. For instance, we cannot fully comprehend a poetry if we do not sense the attitude manifested through the words used. Tone can include word choice, grammatical structure, diction, or imagery. It can also be determined through the author’s attitude toward the subject, literary devices used, and musicality of language.

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