1. desam90
    Offline

    desam90 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0

    Story, Plot, Storyline definitions?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by desam90, Sep 9, 2013.

    I'm trying to get a better understanding of these words but honestly I cant tell the difference.
     
  2. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,911
    Likes Received:
    10,104
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I've moved your thread to the General Writing Issues area of the forum where it better fits. :)

    [​IMG]
     
  3. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,727
    Likes Received:
    4,824
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    A story is a sequence of events. A plot is a sequence of events connected by cause-and-effect relationships. As E.M. Forster once said, "'The King died and then the Queen died' is a story. 'The King died and then the Queen died of grief' is a plot."

    I don't really know what a storyline is. My guess is that it's the main story of a novel - that is, it's what's left after all the subplots are removed. I could be wrong, though. It isn't a term I use.
     
  4. desam90
    Offline

    desam90 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    That means when characters are not developed well plot is lacking?
     
  5. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,727
    Likes Received:
    4,824
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I agree with that, but I'm sure some would not. In my fiction, characters come first and plot arises from them - what they do, how they cope with the situations I put them in.

    Other people start with plots and design characters that fit the roles their plots require. "My main character has to come home from school with a black eye because my plot requires it, so I need to design a bully." That sort of thing. I don't write that way, but they do, and it works for them.
     
  6. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    How might this fit in with story arc and character arc? Can someone explain those a bit better for me?

    BTW, I like the quote by E.M. Forster:
    This really helps me to put things in perspective.
     
  7. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    What you called a plot is essentially a storyline. A storyline is a chronology of events.

    A plot is four interlocking elemens: an actor, a goal or objective, a motivation, and an opposition. The motivation and oppositions are analogous to the forces on a particle (the actor) driving it toward or away from the goal.

    Plots drive the events of a storyline. The storyline answers the question, "What happened." Plots answer the question of how an d why each event happened, a.though some even ts can occur spontaneously.

    A story is a work of fiction, although some people restrict its use to a short story. A story describes a sequence of related events that are in some way resolved by the end. Without a progression of events, or without a connection between the events, it is not a story. Some pieces consisting of a static description fail to qualify as a story.
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  8. Smitty91
    Offline

    Smitty91 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bowling Green, KY
    A story is a character trying to achieve a goal. A plot is simply the things that happen within said story. The plotline is about the character doing things to try to achieve their goal.
     
  9. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,727
    Likes Received:
    4,824
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    This isn't exactly clear. Could you give examples?
     
  10. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    I think Word Masta Cog. said it best, so far.
     
  11. Smitty91
    Offline

    Smitty91 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bowling Green, KY
    Sure. I apologize if my explanation isn't very clear. At the beginning of every story, every writer must ask themselves, "What does my character want?" The main character must want something in order for there to be a story. As stated, the plot is simply what happens in the story. This could be actions that the character takes to achieve what they want, but they are constantly facing obstacles in their path. The plotline is the story and plot coming together in a conflict that the character(s) must overcome to achieve their goal. If there is no conflict, then there is no story.
     
  12. desam90
    Offline

    desam90 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    I read this somewhere:

    "Another way to think of plot and story is in terms of action and reaction. Some action happens (plot), and your character reacts to it (story). In fact, a novel is nothing more than a repeating series of actions and reactions. Other than a little bit of setting, dialogue, and weather, there’s nothing else to it!"

    Would you say this is correct? He is saying novel = mostly actions+reactions with some setting+dialogue+weather
    What about events like someone's birthday or that would be "setting" then?
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    per google's dictionary:

    sto·ry
    noun
    noun: story; plural noun: stories
    1. an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.
    plot
    noun
    2. the main events of a play, novel, movie, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence.


    sto·ry·line
    noun
    noun: storyline; plural noun: storylines
    1. the plot of a novel, play, movie, or other narrative form.


    plot line
    noun
    noun: plotline
    1. the course or main features of a narrative such as the plot of a play, novel, or movie.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
    GHarrison and Andrae Smith like this.
  14. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,727
    Likes Received:
    4,824
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Hmm. Seems Google's dictionary is too simpleminded to be useful (or fun!) as far as this thread is concerned.
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  15. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,911
    Likes Received:
    10,104
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    And those definitions would seem to loop back into one another in an obfuscatory fashion. o_O
     
  16. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,727
    Likes Received:
    4,824
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Sure, but a character wanting something is not, in itself, a story. There has to be more to your definition than this.

    "This could be actions that the character takes ..." implies that it doesn't have to be those actions. Does plot also involve actions side characters take? Does it involve random acts of God? "Constantly facing obstacles ..." implies that conflict is part of plot. Is this true in your definition?

    This is confusing. The "story" (not completely defined above) and the "plot" (various things that happen, I guess, involving conflict) "coming together" (how?) in a conflict (part of the definition of "plot," it seems) ...

    Again, can you give specific examples of these? Say, from books or movies we might all be familiar with (LOTR, Titanic, Romeo and Juliet, A Christmas Carol, etc.)? Pick one, and identify the story, the plot, the storyline, the plotline. Can you do that? It just seems to me that your definitions aren't very clear.
     
  17. desam90
    Offline

    desam90 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Also is there a difference between a narrative and a story?
     
  18. Smitty91
    Offline

    Smitty91 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bowling Green, KY
    Okay. The story in Titanic is about how Jack and Rose fall in love. The plot describes what they want. Okay, what do they want? They want to be together. How do they achieve that goal? Well, that's not very well-defined, as they really don't do much. They basically talk about how much they're in love and then they kiss and fuck in a car. There are various conflicts within Titanic that hinder them from being together: Cal, Rose's mother pressuring her to marry Cal, the aristocratic life that Rose lives, the shagginess of Jack's appearance, behavior, and attitude, and finally, the big one, the Titanic itself sinking.
     
  19. Simpson17866
    Offline

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,755
    Likes Received:
    1,296
    So, if I'm understanding this right: Storyline is the things that happen, Plot is the things that make them happen?
     
  20. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    a 'narrative' is the telling of a 'story'...

    in re the ms/book, the narrative is everything that isn't dialog [except for inserts of letters and such]...

    as far as google's 'simple/obfuscatory' definitions go, they are as close to true as it gets...

    there's really not much difference between those terms and they are often used interchangably... it's only in places like this that they're agonized over as if it makes any difference which one you use where...
     

Share This Page