The key elements of literature are plot, setting, character, point-of-view, theme, conflict and tone. These elements are most typical of fiction, but they are also found in other forms of literature, including poetry and drama.
Plot is the sequence of events that dictates the action of a story. While it traditionally builds up toward a climax, plot can also be less conventionally organized. Setting is where a story takes place. The setting can dictate various aspects of a story, from the conflict to the plot. Place, time, social conditions and atmosphere can all affect setting. Characters are the agents within a story, propelling the plot forward. Characters may be protagonists, who are central to the story, or antagonists, who are in opposition to the protagonist. Point-of-view is the style in which a story is told. Literature is commonly written in first-person or third-person, and may also sometimes be written in second-person. Point-of view may also be limited, meaning that it is told from a specific character's perspective, or omniscient, meaning that it is told by a narrator who knows everything. Theme is the overall message of the story, which indicates the writer's view on the subject matter. Conflict is a problem that drives the plot forward. Conflict is typically between humans and another force, whether it's other humans, society or nature. Tone is the overall feel of the story and an indication of the author's attitude. For example, a story's tone may be satirical, adventurous or somber.