Plot Vs Story

James_Bond_(Pierce_Brosnan)_-_ProfilePlot versus story? I have to be honest, I thought they were the same thing. I was listening to an instructor this week who set me straight. They are not, and both components are necessary for a successful novel.

The Plot is the physical journey your character takes. It’s the action, the conflict, the spine of the novel. You can restate the plot by asking yourself what happened. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The Story is the emotional journey. It’s everything the character experiences and how they experience it. Its what’s going on in the character’s head in reaction to what’s happening around them.

If you want a great novel, you have to have both. If the story (emotional journey) is missing, the reader will not be able to connect with the characters and understand their motivations. They will simply be placed in one thrilling scene after another.

If the plot is missing, there will be too much emotion and not enough action. Your characters will get bogged down in the muck and your reader will become frustrated.

A great example of plot vs. story was shared by an instructor of a course I have been taking. He was quick to point out that books are more story oriented than movies because you can get into your characters’ heads. He chose to use movies for his example because more people would be familiar with what he presented.

James Bond films, especially the older ones, are long on action/plot with only a touch of emotion.

The Twilight Trilogy is steeped in atmosphere and internal battles. The trilogy is story/emotion heavy with less plot.

Harry Potter is a great representation of balance. There is a lot of action combined with an emotional journey that transforms Harry into the Wizard he is destined to become.

Plot and Story work together. Plot causes a reaction in the character (story), and this reaction leads to further action (plot).

Hope I didn’t confuse you. My intention as always is to give you something to think about and hopefully help you along the way to becoming published.

-Jan R


Plot Vs Story

Don’t Let Your Character’s Steal The Show

headercreativeexercisesIf you are to have any chance as a writer, you must embrace the plot.  Consider your plot as the skeleton of the novel. It’s the bare bones that keep everything from collapsing.

You must maintain control. Don’t give your plot over to a character who would gladly pick it up and carry it into directions you never intended to go.

Fictional characters can become so vivid, so alive, that you find yourself altering the plot to accommodate their growth and the direction they want to go.

 I got caught up in the excitement of following one of my characters through a storyline that I didn’t write. It was as if the novel was writing itself. The problem was, it was veering from my original intent and messing up my plot. 

Most authors will tell you that allowing your characters that much freedom is disastrous. That doesn’t mean you can’t allow some revisions to your plot to accommodate growth, it does mean you don’t alter your entire storyline at the urging of a character that has no idea were you are going with your story.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Don’t Let Your Character’s Steal The Show