Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the term that describes what happens before a climax in a novel?

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Before the climax in a work of fiction, the author often provides some exposition. This typically amounts to the introduction of background information about the characters or setting: information that we, the reader, need in order to more fully understand what is going on in the text. Think of it as having the same root as the word "expose"—to make something visible—this is what exposition does. It provides information we might not otherwise learn through the text so that we can better understand the text. There is also, often, some inciting incident, an event or happening that initiates the protagonist's most significant conflict in the work: either the protagonist vs. him/herself, the protagonist vs. nature, the protagonist vs. society, or the protagonist vs. another character. This exposition and the inciting incident usually precede the rising action, which is constituted by the development of the conflict, whichever of the four I have outlined above.

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jrmullett1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"Rising Action" is the term used to describe the sequence of events that precede the climax. It is important not to confuse this with the story's middle, and can be distinguished usually because it occurs right before the climax, or "turning point" of the novel, which is considered the most pivotal point in sequence of events that take place throughout the story.

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linda-allen eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are two possibilities for the term you're looking for. One is "exposition," which is the basic narrative or story line. The other, which I think is what you want, is called "rising action." All of the story up to the moment of the climax is referred to as rising action. Visualize a short story or a novel as a triangle. The rising action begins at the lefthand base, and it rises up to the climax. The falling action and resolution descend down from the right side of the climax.

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conman01 | Student

Foreshadowing or rising action, it gives clues about the climax or plot, like what charater says when he's about to do something and it happpens in the end. That gives us clues about what is going to happen

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