Plot and Story

Plot and Story

I am never going to be a better writer. I know my limits, but to paraphrase another Austin author, I can improve on my craft.

The terms “Plot and Story” are frequently used interchangeably.

Me? I’ll own it. I’ve done that before, always aware, though, in the back of my mind, that there is a difference. As I listened to a Shakespeare lecture — Oxford Professor with lectures done “podcast style” — the lecture cited E.M. Forster’s lithe little book, Aspects of the Novel, and to paraphrase the lecture paraphrasing the text?

“The king died and then the queen died: plot.”

“The king died and then the queen died of heartbreak: story.”

I picked up my copy, leftover from — I’m guessing — close to three decades back. There were underlined notes and passages from the last decade, but not much usage before. I can easily recall looking at it while working on a novel manuscript, half–dozen years back. That novel was a bass–fishing attempt at a eulogy for an Austin that’s no longer there.

Plot and Story

With acknowledgements out of the way, clearly pointing to my sources, circular quotes about quotes, here’s a quick and easy way to tell the difference between Plot and Story:

“My electronics failed last night,” that’s the plot. What happened and when, a timeline.

“My electronics failed last night; Mercury is Retrograde, are those connected?” That’s a story.

The plot is a timeline whereas the story is the causality. Or, in this example, casualty.

Plot and Story are related. Some cases, many of the thrillers I’ve read over the years, the plot drives the story.

The motion of the heavenly bodies, the planets (and Sun and Moon) are plot. Timeline. What happens, when. Action, reaction, feelings, emotions, sentiments, and then, foibles and failures, with some certain success?

That’s the story.

Aspects of the Novel – E. M. Forster

ASPECTS OF THE NOVEL Portable Mercury Retrograde: astrofish.net’s Mercury in Retrograde

Portable Mercury Retrograde – Kramer Wetzel

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