Getting to know the characters in a story is like becoming acquainted with a person you have just met.  It takes a little more time to learn what the person is like.  You learn from what others say about the person.


Motivations are the reasons characters behave the way they do.  Notice what the author says about the character, what the character says and does, and what other characters say about him or her.


The attitude an author or narrator takes toward the subject he or she is writing about is called the tone of the passage.


She did’t belong to anybody; she didn’t even have a name.  Nobody knew where she was spending long, chilly winters or what she ate.  She couldn’t get close to the warm cottages for fear of angry watchdogs.  Kids would chase her off the streets with stones or sticks, and adults would frighten her with shrill whistles.  After darting from side to side, bumping against fences or people’s legs, she’d manage to tear away and take cover in a large orchard, in a hideout she knew.


The mood of a piece of writing is the feeling, or atmosphere, that the author creates through the careful choice of details and words.  The sights, sounds, and scents that the author chooses to mention can create a mood of mystery, merriment, chaos, or peace.

Example:   How would you describe the mood in the following passage?

Did a twig snap?  Dixon looked back and thought he saw a dark shape melt into the underbrush.  Instantly he froze, staring back through the green-boled trees.  There was a complete and expectant silence.


Character: A character is a person depicted in a story.  The main

character is usually known as the protagonist. The character who usually opposes him or her is known as the antagonist.

Motivation: A goal that prompts a character to behave in a certain

way: a reason for character’s behaviour.

Tone: The author’s attitude toward the subject.

Mood: The feeling or atmosphere an author creates through the

choice of details and words.

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