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10 Fun Facts About Owls

purdue owl literary terms

There is something about owls that fascinates people. Perhaps it’s because they’re the cutest birds of prey; perhaps it’s because they’re one of the most mysterious. Either way, learn more about these beloved birds with these 10 fun facts:

Silent Flight

One reason owls may be labeled as mysterious is that they can fly through the sky without making a peep. Their feathers muffle noise and reduce sound when they’re soaring through the air, so they often do so without anyone noticing.

purdue owl literary terms

Owls in Love

Some types of owls, such as the boreal owl, like to stick with one mating partner, and they often raise their young together. The couple stays busy hunting for prey for their babies. But when prey is easy to find and doesn’t require too much extra effort, both the mom and dad boreal owls are likely to go find themselves a little partner or two on the side.

purdue owl literary terms

Eating Etiquette

When they eat their prey, owls don’t exactly have the best table manners. They typically crush whatever they catch until it’s dead and swallow it whole, bones and all. What the body can’t digest, the owl throws back up in a pellet shape.

purdue owl literary terms

Playing Favorites

While human parents claim they don’t have favorite children, owls aren’t quite so kind. When they don’t have enough food for all of their young, they pick out the healthiest ones to feed and let the others starve.

purdue owl literary terms

Owls can’t move their eyes, but they can turn their necks up to 270 degrees, aCC0rding to Audubon. When they rotate their heads, however, it cuts off their circulation, but they have a system that collects extra blood to keep their eyes, brain and other above the neck functions working correctly.

purdue owl literary terms

Spotting Prey

Despite the fact that owls can’t move their eyes, they have amazing vision. The Northern Hawk Owl, for example, can spot its prey up to half a mile away from its perch in the trees, aCC0rding to Audubon. This is how barn owls are able to catch and eat prey in total darkness.

purdue owl literary terms

Hunting Each Other

What’s the barred owl’s most terrifying predator? Another owl. Great horned owls are at the top of the food chain, and while owls enjoy insects and small mammals, they also have some cannibalistic tendencies.

purdue owl literary terms

Most owls live in trees, but some, like the long-legged burrowing owl, actually live underground. While they may dig their own homes, they typically look for one already built by another creature, like a prairie dog, and take it over. ACC0rding to Mental Floss, they place dung all around the entrance of their newly-stolen homes and sit there all day waiting for dung beetles to eat.

purdue owl literary terms

Pest Control

Farmers often dislike using poison to keep mice and other varmints out off their properties, because it’s not safe for the other animals, both wild and domestic. As a matter of fact, eating mice that have consumed poison is often deadly for an owl. This is why many farmers go out of their way to welcome owls to their farms to keep pests, like gophers and mice, away. An average family of owls will eat 3,000 mice in four months, aCC0rding to Mental Floss.

purdue owl literary terms

You’ve heard of a murder of crows, but did you know a group of owls is called a parliament? The description comes from the CS Lewis book “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

purdue owl literary terms


purdue owl literary terms

Purdue Online Writing Lab College of Liberal Arts

purdue owl literary terms

Fiction Writing Basics

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

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This resource discusses some terms and techniques that are useful to the beginning and intermediate fiction writer, and to instructors who are teaching fiction at these levels. The distinction between beginning and intermediate writing is provided for both students and instructors, and numerous sources are listed for more information about fiction tools and how to use them. A sample assignment sheet is also provided for instructors. This resource covers the basics of plot, character, theme, conflict, and point-of-view.

Plot is what happens in a story, but action itself doesn’t constitute plot. Plot is created by the manner in which the writer arranges and organizes particular actions in a meaningful way. It’s useful to think of plot as a chain reaction, where a sequence of events causes other events to happen.

When reading a work of fiction, keep in mind that the author has selected one line of action from the countless possibilities of action available to her. Trying to understand why the author chose a particular line of action over another leads to a better understanding of how plot is working in a story

This does not mean that events happen in chronological order; the author may present a line of action that happens after the story’s conclusion, or she may present the reader with a line of action that is still to be determined. Authors can’t present all the details related to an action, so certain details are brought to the forefront, while others are omitted.

The author imbues the story with meaning by a selection of detail. The cause-and-effect connection between one event and another should be logical and believable, because the reader will lose interest if the relation between events don’t seem significant. As Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren wrote in Understanding Fiction , fiction is interpretive: “Every story must indicate some basis for the relation among its parts, for the story itself is a particular writer’s way of saying how you can make sense of human experience.”

If a sequence of events is merely reflexive, then plot hasn’t come into play. Plot occurs when the writer examines human reactions to situations that are always changing. How does love, longing, regret and ambition play out in a story? It depends on the character the writer has created.

Because plot depends on character, plot is what the character does. Plot also fluctuates, so that something is settled or thrown off balance in the end, or both. Traditionally, a story begins with some kind of description that then leads to a complication. The complication leads up to a crisis point where something must change. This is the penultimate part of the story, before the climax, or the most heightened moment of a story.

In some stories, the climax is followed by a denouement, or resolution of the climax. Making events significant in plot begins with establishing a strong logic that connects the events. Insofar as plot reveals some kind of human value or some idea about the meaning of experience, plot is related to theme.

Character can’t be separated from action, since we come to understand a character by what she does. In stories, characters drive the plot. The plot depends on the characters' situations and how they respond to it. The actions that occur in the plot are only believable if the character is believable. For most traditional fiction, characters are divided into the following categories:

Because character is so important to plot and fiction, it’s important for the writer to understand her characters as much as possible. Though the writer should know everything there is to know about her character, she should present her knowledge of the characters indirectly, through dialogue and action. Still, sometimes a summary of a character’s traits needs to be given. For example, for characters who play the supporting cast in a story, direct description of the character’s traits keeps the story from slowing down.

Beginning and intermediate level writers frequently settle for creating types, rather than highly individualized, credible characters. Be wary of creating a character who is a Loser With A Good Heart, The Working Class Man Who Is Trapped By Tough Guy Attitudes, The Lonely Old Lady With A Dog, etc. At the same time, keep in mind that all good characters are, in a sense, types.

Often, in creative writing workshops from beginning to advanced levels, the instructor asks, “Whose story is this?” This is because character is the most important aspect of fiction. In an intermediate level workshop, it would be more useful to introduce a story in which it is more difficult to pick out the main character from the line-up. It provides an opportunity for intermediate level fiction writers to really explore character and the factors that determine what is at stake, and for whom.

Conflict depends on character, because readers are interested in the outcomes of people’s lives, but may be less interested in what’s at stake for a corporation, a bank, or an organization. Characters in conflict with one another make up fiction. Hypothetically, a character can come into conflict with an external force, like poverty, or a fire. But there is simply more opportunity to explore the depth and profundity in relationships between people, because people are so complex that conflict between characters often gets blurred with a character’s conflict with herself

The short story, as in all literary forms, including poetry and creative nonfiction, depends on the parts of the poem or story or essay making some kind of sense as a whole. The best example in fiction is character. The various aspects of a character should add up to some kind of meaningful, larger understanding of the character. If the various aspects of a character don’t add up, the character isn’t believable. This doesn’t mean that your characters have to be sensible. Your characters may have no common sense at all, but we have to understand the character and why she is that way. The character’s motives and actions have to add up, however conflicted, marginalized or irrational they may be.


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  3. 10 Fun Facts About Owls

    There is something about owls that fascinates people. Perhaps it’s because they’re the cutest birds of prey; perhaps it’s because they’re one of the most mysterious. Either way, learn more about these beloved birds with these 10 fun facts:

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