Plot vs story. What's the difference? - Page 4
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Thread: Plot vs story. What's the difference?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by RhythmOvPain View Post
    How the plot is formed does not dictate the validity of the concept; a plot that develops itself into a story is just a good plot.

    Keep in mind, a plot can have a (back)story all its own, but that story has to have a plot laid out by the actions of the characters which premeditates its very existence.

    If you STILL don't get it, I have one last example to offer: the PLOT to kill Franz Ferdinand propelled the STORY of WWI.

    Good enough?
    I think you're mixing plot with concept. They aren't quite the same thing, in my view.

    A plot is the sequence of events across the entire story. The blow-by-blow of what occurs. Like the commentary on a sportscast. A concept is the 'what if', the presented challenge. I am all about those!

    It is possible, I suppose, for a plot point to form the basis for a concept, especially - as I think you mentioned - in a sequel scenario. Like if one wrote a book about an alien invasion that was repelled by a nuclear weapon it would be possible to then write a sequel about living in the carnage that followed and that is a plot-driven idea for sure - even if the plot in question came from another book. I think that would be a relatively small proportion of stories that come about that way.

    But I am here to be illuminated on the matter.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by senecaone View Post
    I'm lost in the weeds here.
    To my mind, the story line is first. That's the core idea.
    Plots are devices that help carry the story from beginning to end. Bad devices kill the story. Good ones add value. Great and unique ones are true gems
    Characters add flavor. If they're all flat and in the same voice, so is the story. If they're too extreme, they can also kill the story.

    Story, Plot, Character. All in balance.

    Story first, the rest are in support. Too simplistic? Maybe. But not a bad place to start, I think.
    It's not that it's simplistic, senecaone, it's just that it's kind of semantic muddling.

    You seem to think story is something separate to plot and characters. Story is a catch all for plot plus characters plus situation (a fire, a war, an affair) and that's basically all it is, no?

    If you disagree, please elaborate on what you think story is. Otherwise there's not much point in adding in a new unicorn named ​Story.

  3. #33
    I agree that "story" is what we get when we combine plot, characters, setting, and writing style. Story is the whole, the others are just parts of it.

    I feel like the "do we need to figure out our plot ahead of time" question is a bit of an offshoot from the thread... it's essentially the plotters/pantsers, architects/gardeners debate again, right? And I think it's probably going to be one more writing question for which there's no overarching answer. Some people's work comes better if they plan ahead, some people's work comes better if they don't. Fair enough.

    But hopefully whatever approach they take, the final version will be a complete, well-balanced story, with all elements rich and interesting!
    booklives.com (work in progress!)

  4. #34
    Plot, story, concept, characterisation, scenes, sequences, segways, seagulls; whatever happened to just telling a good story that appeals to some readers? Is it that hard? I've written all my life across many genres: journalism, technical non-fiction, fiction, poetry, scripts, etc., and seemingly I've done it without getting bogged down in the on-going debates; debates that seem to obscure the reason for writing more than offering a revelation. It's only in recent years I've become aware that people spend way too much time debating how to write.

    There is no special skill, no secret code, no defining rules or structures. Rather than debate the living shit out of it, spend the time developing an inner ear, one that hears what people want to read. Then apply it to your work. If you get your writing wrong, you will know because your inner ear will tell you so. I sometimes write things that I am unhappy with and usually I know that much as I write it. I don't apply a bunch of other peoples' rules and theories. I go back and work it out because I have learned to read my work as a detached person and can therefore see where it's weak and where it's strong.

    All this debate sometimes makes me want to weep (metaphorically, of course; I'm too busy to actually spend time weeping). When I first started writing I played around, broke the rules, tried things no one else had tried (and often found out why no one else had tried them). I invented structures and constructions and even words and then discovered why no one else used them. I didn't want to write a novel or win a Pulitzer prize of create a series that became a film franchise or be on an Amazon list (because Amazon was some future that we had idea about); I wanted to play with language and stories and create something that fitted my mood.

    That care-free abandonment taught me more about writing than anything else ever did. Reading a lot of varied things helped, as did immersing myself in communications of all types and observing how other people reacted to them. I only found out about most of the 'rules' after I'd been doing it for 40-odd years.

    When a piece of writing really drags me in it's usually different and does not follow the normal path. It has an original voice, and different structure, something that appeals because it 'speaks' to me in some way or another. I don't tend to analyse its construction (and nor do most readers). I know if it works for me. The emphasis is on 'for me'. I don't care if anyone else likes it or not. I also write what works for me. Same emphasis.

    The truth is that these debates often achieve little because writing, like any sort of creativity, isn't the same for anyone. It's as futile as debating what the best food to have with beer is. Today that seems to be a 'thing'; pairing beer with food. Ironically, I've never needed 'expert' advice as to what drink to have with a meal. I think I can work that out myself. This is despite several websites and blogs and self-proclaimed experts offering 'pairing' advice. I trust myself.

    That's the thing more writers should do: trust themselves. Yes, you will get it wrong. Yes, you will either delete or heavily revise work. Yes, you will weep. But you will learn. Forget rules and theories and 'well established facts' from unestablished people. Play with language and structure and tone and voice and see what works and what doesn't. Don't expect to be great at first. Develop an inner ear that is both critical and complimentary and then trust it. Plot and story and a host of other definitions will then be irrelevant because the writing will stand by itself.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete_C View Post
    Plot, story, concept, characterisation, scenes, sequences, segways, seagulls; whatever happened to just telling a good story that appeals to some readers? Is it that hard? I've written all my life across many genres: journalism, technical non-fiction, fiction, poetry, scripts, etc., and seemingly I've done it without getting bogged down in the on-going debates; debates that seem to obscure the reason for writing more than offering a revelation. It's only in recent years I've become aware that people spend way too much time debating how to write.

    There is no special skill, no secret code, no defining rules or structures. Rather than debate the living shit out of it, spend the time developing an inner ear, one that hears what people want to read. Then apply it to your work. If you get your writing wrong, you will know because your inner ear will tell you so. I sometimes write things that I am unhappy with and usually I know that much as I write it. I don't apply a bunch of other peoples' rules and theories. I go back and work it out because I have learned to read my work as a detached person and can therefore see where it's weak and where it's strong.

    All this debate sometimes makes me want to weep (metaphorically, of course; I'm too busy to actually spend time weeping). When I first started writing I played around, broke the rules, tried things no one else had tried (and often found out why no one else had tried them). I invented structures and constructions and even words and then discovered why no one else used them. I didn't want to write a novel or win a Pulitzer prize of create a series that became a film franchise or be on an Amazon list (because Amazon was some future that we had idea about); I wanted to play with language and stories and create something that fitted my mood.

    That care-free abandonment taught me more about writing than anything else ever did. Reading a lot of varied things helped, as did immersing myself in communications of all types and observing how other people reacted to them. I only found out about most of the 'rules' after I'd been doing it for 40-odd years.

    When a piece of writing really drags me in it's usually different and does not follow the normal path. It has an original voice, and different structure, something that appeals because it 'speaks' to me in some way or another. I don't tend to analyse its construction (and nor do most readers). I know if it works for me. The emphasis is on 'for me'. I don't care if anyone else likes it or not. I also write what works for me. Same emphasis.

    The truth is that these debates often achieve little because writing, like any sort of creativity, isn't the same for anyone. It's as futile as debating what the best food to have with beer is. Today that seems to be a 'thing'; pairing beer with food. Ironically, I've never needed 'expert' advice as to what drink to have with a meal. I think I can work that out myself. This is despite several websites and blogs and self-proclaimed experts offering 'pairing' advice. I trust myself.

    That's the thing more writers should do: trust themselves. Yes, you will get it wrong. Yes, you will either delete or heavily revise work. Yes, you will weep. But you will learn. Forget rules and theories and 'well established facts' from unestablished people. Play with language and structure and tone and voice and see what works and what doesn't. Don't expect to be great at first. Develop an inner ear that is both critical and complimentary and then trust it. Plot and story and a host of other definitions will then be irrelevant because the writing will stand by itself.
    Hello Pete,

    I don’t totally disagree. Writing is ultimately driven by instinct. I usually don’t care to over-intellectualize and once a topic has been exhausted (scene clock anyone?) I agree, to quote Elvis, that a little less conversation and a little more action is the way to go.

    Probably about at that point on this one I reckon.

    That said, there’s nothing wrong with debate. Debate is not always a means to an end, it’s sometimes an end to itself. So long as a conversation is generating new input and not quibbling over inanities or treading water that’s already been farted in by countless others, I respectfully disagree that expert advice (or even non expert advice) is not useful even if one may not agree with the entirety of its point.

    Actually I thought that was basically the point of this forum? Am I missing something? Why are you here, may I ask?

    Thanks Pete.

  6. #36
    I want to thank everyone for a great discussion here. It is very interesting to see the spin other writers put on this wildly subjective 'rule' of mine. The reason it works for me -- or maybe it doesn't work, depending on how you view my resulting stories -- is because it helps me focus on creating an enjoyable read, not just interesting events. As I mentioned somewhere above, early on I was more interested in creating a unique string of events than in sharpening my storytelling skills. What I ended up with were stories that felt rushed and lumpy, like Cream-of-Wheat cooked too quickly. It was only when I slowed down and started enjoying the creative process itself, enjoying the language and enjoying playing with the pace and flow of the narrative that my writing started to sound right to me.

    While reading through this thread, another definition of plot vs story came to me, one I think sums up my opinion best; a book's plot can be found on the back-cover blurb, but its story can only be found by reading everything between the covers.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    https://www.amazon.com/author/terrydurbin






  7. #37
    In my opinion plot is a somewhat technical term and it is a part or component of the story, and the story is on the other hand the whole thing and all beautifully integrated into a beautiful whole. Plot is a story, and yet not a complete story, and it is a rivulet that flows to a river and becomes submerged in that bigness of the flow. Plot is the body and story is the soul and yet soul needs a body for existence or manifestation or else the story becomes concreted in a plot and story breathes a life into plot. And that is why they are integral

  8. #38
    He runs his hands up her smooth sides and beneath the inside-out shirt. She gives a tiny jump at his initial touch --
    He runs his hands up her smooth sides -- she gives a tiny jump at his initial touch -- and beneath the inside-out shirt. (King, Mr. Mercedes)
    Perhaps, it seems to me, a recurring conflict at WF is between the events of a story (including setting) and the reader's experience. The two short passages above are intended to describe the same action. The second one, IMO, uses grammar to interrupt the action, in a way creating the same experience for the reader as the character is experiencing. (The story is told from his perspective.)

    It seems useful to distinguish "the story" from "how the story is told". That would equate "story" with the information in a book, not with the reader's experience? True?

    Bayview, perhaps seeing the problems lying ahead, was the only person I noticed trying to include the words used in the definition of story. Jay wanted story to include the emotional whole. The usual view seemed to equate story with the information.

    I think it's more natural to differentiate 'the story' from 'how the story is told', so defining story as events and characters and setting seems more natural. Or maybe it's better to leave "story" ambiguous, that's fine with me.

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