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April 03 2009

Story and Plot: Is there a Difference? io9 contemplates the issue and quotes Joss about the subject.

What's up with the choice of pictures?
story = the entire 'story' of the film/television episode

plot = what you as an audience member see of the entire 'story' of the film/television episode

Ahhh... year 12 Media.
As any film class will tell you, the answer is a definite yes. Plot is primarily what is expressly said or shown, whereas story is everything that the plot may not include, gaps the audience fills in, stuff like that.

So what Aapac said.
As you might guess from my moniker, this touches on my most deeply held interest, namely story.

This is what I love about language: two words that at one time might have meant the same thing, have now diverged and become nuances of a larger concept.

So...plot. Plot I think, has definitely taken on a more technical meaning. Not only is it a "How do you get from Point A to Point G?" thing (with a tour through Points B, C, D, E, and F), but I think it also encompasses the idea of the underlying theme. Somewhere, in some class, at sometime, most of us were probably introduced to the idea that there are only 14 actual plots! - Or 20, or 36, or whatever, depending on the chosen classification system. Anyhow, there is this idea that the number of plots is finite and that they can be classified.

I think that these plots are the manifestation of the various issues/myths that we as humans wrestle with because we are human, a la Joseph Campbell or Carl Jung. Not original, I know.

Now Story on the other hand, is the specific manifestation of a chosen plot. Therefore you can have the plot of The Hero's Journey with it's plot points of: The Call, Crossing The Threshold, The Trials, The Return, etc. and end up with two different stories...say Star Wars Episode Four vs. Serenity or BtVS.

Plot is the stripped down formula for water and Story is a crystalline snowflake or a soft spring rain.

I think that a "bad story": 1. doesn't follow the rules of plot (let's forget meta for the sake of this argument), 2. degenerates into cliches and tropes, and 3. isn't Important. By important I mean that we don't care. We don't care because it tells us nothing about ourselves as human beings. Story is how we tell ourselves who we are and make sense of the randomness of life. IMO it doesn't get anymore important than that.
I don't know much about "story," but I do know that Beyond the Pole: Mystery of the Horror-Dirigible is officially the most awesome title I've ever heard.
Whip out your Mieke Bal, folks. The plot would be the story as it's presented, in the real-world way -- the sujet. The story is the way a Wikia fansite would relay it, in "in-universe" chronological order etc. -- the fabula.
‘The king died and then the queen died,’ is a story. ‘The king died, and then the queen died of grief,’ is a plot. The time sequence is preserved, but the sense of causality overshadows it. Consider the death of the queen. If it is in a story we say ‘and then?’ If it is in a plot we ask ‘why?’

EM Forster
@BreathesStory: That was completely the best description of the difference between story and plot. Plot really is just the formula, the steps that you follow, whereas story is what makes the plot compelling to an audience.

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