Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tip # 22: Plot vs. Story

By Anant Mathur (June 16, 2012)

I have been asked many times what the difference between a plot and a story is? In this post I will try to explain what plot is and how it differs from a story.

To begin with, a PLOT can be described simply as a logical structure which connects events. A STORY on the other hand is a chronological sequence of events. 

A story requires at least one event in its narrative in order to be considered a story. Most stories have a series of events involving many characters rather than just one event.

English novelist E.M. Forster provides the following examples to illustrate the difference between story and plot:
The king died and then the queen died (story).
The king died and then the queen died of grief (plot).
A narrative can have one or more plot-lines, that is, events can center around one or a groups of characters.

It's very rare to find single plot stories, most stories develop multiple plots. Multiple plot lines don't necessarily get the same level of importance, there is usually a main plot-line and one or more subplot lines. Subplots can be used to contrast the main plot, for example, if there is a sad scene in the main plot, the writer may have a subplot which provides some comic relief.

I cannot go into too much detail about plot and story on this blog as it is a complex subject. If you require further explanation, there are many books available to you. Below is a short list of books I suggest you read if you wish to learn more about this subject:

1) Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster
2) The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker
3) The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson
4) Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
5) The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take by Eric Edson
6) The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by Christopher Vogler
7) Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots by William Wallace Cook
8) Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath by Linda Seger
9) The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

No comments: