Unit 1 Overview: Introduction to Short Fiction

3 min readjanuary 25, 2023



AP English Literature 📚

145 resources
See Units


Welcome to Fiveable’s study guide series for AP Lit! This is the first unit we’ll be looking at short fiction and make sure that you understand all the aspects of it you’ll be expected to analyze. 
In each of the following sections of the overview, I’ll give a brief summary of the topic and important skills (the most relevant parts!!) of each study guide. When finished reading through all the study guides of a particular unit, feel free to return to the overview and ensure you’ve learned each important skill listed. 
Let’s begin looking at each of the six topics of AP Lit Unit 1!

1.1 Interpreting the role of character in fiction

Important skill: Identify the three main textual details that reveal information about characters.
Important skill: Identify what perspective is in literature, and what contributes to it.
Important skill: Analyze how perspective influences a character’s motives, interactions, and relationships.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at the role of characters in stories. You’ll learn what textual details to pay attention to in order to develop a full understanding of characters and how perspective contributes to the overall plot.

1.2 Identifying and interpreting setting

Important skill: Identify details that convey setting.
Important skill: Describe the influence of setting and what it conveys beyond the obvious.
In guide 1.2, you’ll learn what factors make up setting and how those factors influence the story beyond simply providing geographic and time context.

1.3 Understanding how a story’s structure affects interpretations

Important skill: Identify what plot is and describe its impact.
Important skill: Explain the function of particular sequences of events in a plot.
In guide 1.3, we’ll explore the various structures writers can use and how each kind influences the way readers perceive their writing. Two concepts that will be highlighted are dramatic situation (if you don’t recognize that term, don’t worry!) and sequencing.

1.4 Understanding and interpreting a narrator’s perspective

Important skill: Identify and describe the narrator of the text.
Important skill: Identify POV and explain significance to text.
Here, you’ll learn the differences between various terms you’ve most likely seen in the past: speaker versus narrator, and perspective versus POV. You’ll also be refreshed on the different types of POV and better understand how each is used strategically by writers to convey certain tones. Look forward to a Test Yourself exercise in this guide!

1.5 Reading texts literally and figuratively

Important skill: Understand the difference between reading literally and figuratively.
Important skill: Have specific analytical tools to help with figurative reading.
In this guide, we’ll look at what it means to read texts literally and figuratively. This is on a more general, macro level compared to the previous guides of Unit 1. It acts as an important interlude to study guide 1.6, where you’ll learn how to interpret your findings from reading figuratively.

1.6 The basics of literary analysis

Important skill: Identify the components of literary analysis.
Important skill: Be able to write literary analysis successfully.
In the last study guide of Unit 1, you’ll synthesize the techniques you’ve learned in the previous guides and learn to develop a strong literary analysis. You’ll learn about the components of a literary analysis and receive some tips on writing one!
That’s the overview for Unit 1 of our AP Lit series!
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🤔Exam Skills
🌱Unit 1 – Intro to Short Fiction
Unit 2 – Intro to Poetry
🎭Unit 3 – Intro to Longer Fiction & Drama
⚔️Unit 4 – Character, Conflict, & Storytelling in Short Fiction
🌈Unit 5 – Structure & Figurative Language in Poetry
🛠️Unit 6 – Literary Techniques in Longer Works
🏛️Unit 7 – Societal & Historical Context in Short Fiction
🤾🏾‍♀️Unit 8 – Advanced Techniques in Poetry
🚣🏾Unit 9 – Nuanced Analysis in Longer Works

Stay Connected

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.