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You Think It’s a Story but it Could be a Plot


You Think It’s a Story but it Could be a Plot

Your friend comes to you and urges you to watch a movie that he/she watched the night before. Your friend starts talking enthusiastically about the STORY describing the relationship between characters and the implications of events leading to the emotional impact.

Ok, the story that your friend is telling you is more likely to be a plot in the film. But how can we distinguish between a plot and a story?

Sometimes writers tend to overlap the story and the plot or maybe compose a few plots that shape the story. But what does that mean?

Danish_letter_imageThe story is a set of related events, movements, or actions conducted by actors or characters that follow each other with progression of time. The man arrives, the woman opens the door and they both sit down. On the other hand, the plot is a set of sequences that the writer uses to connect characters and structure a series of events logically.

The man arrives; the woman opens the door, she sees the man and begins to cry.

The emotional connection between the characters makes the event more engaging and leads the viewer to relate to both characters, and to open up for a lot of possibilities:
Why does she react in this way? Does she miss him? Has he done anything wrong that she already knows about? Perhaps she is scared of him and did not expect to see him, or she is about to deliver sad news to him.

We can also bring a sub-story to explain some events before this plot takes place:

The child dies, the man arrives, the woman opens the door and she begins to cry.

Or maybe we can be more creative and add another sub-plot or number of plots to connect the events and make the narrative more interesting:

The woman cannot find the medicine, the child dies, the woman blames herself, the man arrives, the woman opens the door and she begins to cry.

One event or more are required to form and develop a story, but a plot needs at least two events and a logical connection.

Now you know the main difference between a story and a plot. So the next time your friend wants to tell you a story about a film, ask him or her nicely to shut up and go watch the film yourself.

By Mehyar Abou Matouk, Director