What Are Literary Elements?

Literary elements are characteristics common to both oral and written stories. The elements are intrinsic parts of literature, not something an author simply decides to utilize.

An example of a literary element is the setting. The setting of a story is the time and/ or place the story occurs. All stories have a setting of some kind. The reader may not know the exact time the story happens, but he knows something about where and when it occurs.

Another element is the point of view from which the story is told. Point of view is typically either first or third person, though second person is sometimes used. First person is when the narrator is a character in the story telling the tale from his point of view. Third person is when an outside narrator tells the story. Third person point of view is either limited or omniscient. When it’s omniscient, the narrator knows what all the characters do and think. Limited point of view occurs when the narrator speaks mainly for one or two characters.

Character is another important literary element. A story’s characters are the people (and sometimes animals or other figures) that appear in the story. The main character is the protagonist, and the character with whom he has conflict is the antagonist. Other literary elements include mood, theme and conflict.