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Chapter 4: Plotting: Scenes, Sequels, and Narrative

Novel’s Story vs. Plot

Melissa Ford Lucken

The terms “story” and “plot” are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings in the realm of narrative. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between story and plot:

Story: A story refers to the broader narrative or the sequence of events that occur in a specific world or fictional universe. It encompasses the overall concept, themes, and the core ideas being explored. A story typically includes elements such as characters, setting, conflict, and resolution. It focuses on the emotional and thematic journey of the characters and the central message or meaning conveyed by the narrative. In essence, the story is the larger, more abstract concept that encapsulates the narrative’s essence, purpose, and underlying themes. It can be thought of as the “what” of the narrative—the events and ideas that the author wishes to communicate to the audience.

Plot: The plot, on the other hand, refers to the specific sequence of events and actions that drive the story forward. It encompasses the arrangement and structure of these events, highlighting cause-and-effect relationships and the chronological order in which they occur. The plot involves the details, twists, and turns that shape the narrative and provide a framework for the story. The plot focuses on the “how” of the narrative—the specific actions, conflicts, and resolutions that occur within the story’s framework. It determines the pacing, suspense, and development of the narrative, guiding the reader through a series of events toward a resolution.

In summary, the story represents the overall concept, themes, and underlying message of a narrative, while the plot refers to the specific sequence of events and actions that unfold within the story. The story is the abstract and conceptual aspect, while the plot is the concrete and structural aspect of storytelling. Both elements are essential in creating a cohesive and engaging narrative experience.
A story is revealed, a plot is created, gradually though scenes and sequels.


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Novel's Story vs. Plot by Melissa Ford Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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