Monday, February 14

Dragonwatch & Literary Elements

Essential to every piece of fiction you will write are literary elements.  These include plot, perspective, characters, theme, and tone, and they are the glue that holds your story together and keep it moving forward.  Let's look at six elements every story should have...

  • Perspective
  • Setting
    • What would Hogwarts be without the dormitories, Diagon Alley, or Gringotts?  These are places you can envision in your mind, for the characters to interact in, because the author spends so much time describing them in detail.  Your setting includes location, but also time period.  If you are writing historic fiction, be sure to do your research on the nuances that make that period unique.
  • Plot
    • The best way to map out a plot is by creating a timeline.  Be sure to include all six elements of a plot arc, defined below.
      • Exposition: This is the very beginning of a story. During the exposition, authors usually introduce the major characters and settings to the reader.
      • Conflict: This is the problem that the main characters have to tackle. There are two types of conflict that you'll see in a plot. The major conflict is the overarching problem that characters face. Minor conflicts, on the other hands, are the smaller obstacles characters have to overcome to resolve the major conflict.
      • Rising Action: This is everything leading up to the climax of the plot. Writers use rising action and minor conflicts to build tension and move the story along.
      • Climax: This is when the characters finally have to face and solve the major conflict. This is the "peak" of the plot where all the tension of the rising action finally comes to a head. You can usually identify the climax by figuring out which part of the story is the moment where the hero will either succeed or totally fail.
      • Falling Action: Everything that happens after the book's climax, but before the resolution, is your falling action. This is a good time to start tying up loose ends and bring the story toward a close.
      • Resolution: This is the conclusion of a story. But just because it's called a "resolution" doesn't mean every single issue is resolved happily—it could end poorly for the hero, or even dangle, leading to a sequel.
  • Characters
    • What is a story without characters?  Characters don't have to be people - animals, and even objects can be main characters.  The two characters you most definitely have to include are your protagonist (hero) and antagonist (opposition).  The hero character doesn't have to be extraordinary; they are often ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary circumstance.  Likewise, antagonists don't have to be pure evil.  It helps round out the character when there is a bit of good in the bad, or vice versa.
    • Stories can be written from four different points of view, but many engaging ones are told from the first person perspective of the hero. This helps the reader get to know the main character in detail, since they experience the main character's thoughts, feelings, and actions.
    • Here's a primer on those four perspectives:
      • First person: This is told by one of the characters of the story from their perspective, and uses words like "I," "you," and "my."
      • Second person: This is when the audience becomes a character in the story. In this instance, the narrator uses second person pronouns, like "you" and "your." "Choose Your Own Adventure" books use second person.
      • Third person Limited: The narrator uses pronouns like "he," "she," and "they" to refer to the characters in the story, telling it from an outside perspective. It's almost like there's a camera crew following the protagonist that reports on everything that happens to them.
      • Third person Omniscient: The narrator tells readers what's happening with all characters at all times. It's almost like the narrator is God - he can see all, hear all, and explain all!
  • Mood
    • Have you ever read something that made you feel scared or tense?  That's the author setting the mood!  While a story can have an overall mood, it's more likely that the mood will change from scene to scene depending on what the writer is trying to convey. For example, Romeo and Juliet may be tragic, but that doesn't mean there aren't funny, lighthearted moments throughout the play.
  • Conflict
    • Conflict is a part of every plot (see plot arc), and it is the central struggle that motivates the characters and leads to the climax. Generally, conflict occurs between the hero and villain...but it can also occur between secondary characters, man and nature, social structures, or even between the hero and his own mind.  Sometimes conflicts are large, like a war...but they can also be small, like conflict in a relationship.


  • Dragonwatch (Brandon Mull)
    • In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.  No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.  How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?


  • Any movie you want!  Be sure to outline the main elements of the movie.  You can use this Movie Lapbook to help guide you.

Make / Do

  • Create a timeline for the book.  Be sure to mark when we encounter various creatures in the story. 
  • Write a paragraph explaining the theme of the book.  Use examples from the story.  Some examples of themes include: sacrifice, family, friendship, good versus evil, heroes, etc.
  • Create a map that shows where the characters traveled, including Seth’s journey on the griffin. In addition to place names, the map should include small illustrations of the important places Kendra and Seth visited.
  • Research and complete a Venn diagram about real-world connections of war and alliances and compare that to Dragonwatch.
  • Choose a section of the story you feel is the most action-packed. Using direct text from the story and your drawings, create a graphic novel version of the chosen section.
  • Print off this Literary Elements and Techniques cheat sheet to keep handy when you start writing  

  • antagonist
  • climax
  • denouement
  • foil
  • foreshadowing
  • irony
  • motif
  • protagonist
  • theme
  • tone


  • Foreshadowing is a technique that writers use to give readers hints about what will happen later on in the book. Looking back to the early part of the book, did the author foreshadow Knox’s involvement in getting the scepter back? What clues did the author give about how Knox would be used later in the story? Did the author give any clues earlier in the story that Tempest would be a crucial character?
  • Courage is a major theme throughout the story. Give examples of times when characters displayed courage, mentioning at least four different characters. What were the results of their courageous actions? What were the risks?

Explore more with the Literary Elements Novel Study Bundle!!

Five unit studies covering literary styles and elements. Each unit addresses a new topic and includes introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • After this text, you will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

  • Literary Elements with Dragonwatch (product sample)
  • Creating a World with the Phantom Tollbooth
  • Writing Dystopia with the Giver
  • Writing Fantasy with the Hobbit
  • Writing Surrealism with Tuck Everlasting

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