A plot is also a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality. “The king died and then the queen died” is a story. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief” is a plot. The time-sequence is preserved, but the sense of causality overshadows it.
The difference between Plot and Story is at the basics of writing, but it’s not always so easy to outline.
The simplest definition that I came up with for myself is that the Story is what I want to tell, and the Plot is how the things I want to tell happen.
When I define a story, I usually start by building my main characters. I name them and think: this character is going to have a journey from A to B. In the case of my book Back in the rain , which is a thriller, the story is as simple as this:
Andrew solves a murder mystery.
The plot is what adds events and emotions to the story: betrayal, love and suffering are all plot points. So, even if the readers come for the story, they should stay for the plot.
Andrew solves a murder mystery by facing hardships and trials.
Interaction between Story & Plot
Story and Plot interact on a path that goes from the beginning to the end of the book. I imagine my main character being at an imaginary station A (beginning of the story) and hopping on a train (plot) to get to station B (ending of the story).
This doesn’t mean story and plot should have the same climax. In Back in the rain the plot’s climax is, of course, when the murder mystery is solved, but the story’s climax is in the very ending, when the main character reaches his B station and his journey is finally over.
Experimenting with Story & Plot
Soon I’ll be publishing two new stories set in the same universe as Back in the rain and I decided to experiment a little with Story and Plot.
- In my first WIP, a romantic drama, coming of age story, I decided to make the boundary between story and plot really thin, to keep the book as simple and straightforward as possible.
The result I got is this:
STORY: Liam figures out what he wants for his future
PLOT: Liam figures out what he wants for his future by falling in love
In this case, the climax of the story and the plot happen at the same time. There will be a moment, in Liam’s story, when things will be clear to him, and that will be the moment the plot will reach its climax too.
- In my second WIP, I decided to take my expertimentation a little further. I created a main character, Harry, and gave him a story with two different plots, dividing it in “Part one” and “Part two”.
This is how it turned out:
STORY: Harry reinvents his life
PLOT: Harry reinvents his life by putting an end to a relationship and becoming involved in a fight between rival gangs
As you can imagine this time we have a story climax, which is the ending of Harry’s journey, and two plot climaxes.
If you like to play with story and plot too, or if you want to share your opinion on these themes as a reader, let me know in the comments!
Lots of love,