Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This Particular Death - The Difference Between Story and Plot

Dear Dead Beat,

You talk about the difference between story and plot. What is this difference?


Dear Undecided,

This is a great question and Dead Beat has a great answer. Story is the chronological sequence of events that take place. Plot is the causal and logical structure which connects events.

To paraphrase E.M. Forster: The king died and then the queen died (story).The king died and then the queen died of grief (plot).

But here this (quote from Diegesis - The Extent of Story: "Now here’s the sucker punch: story refers to all the audience infers about the events that occur in the diegesis on the basis of what they are shown by the plot. Story is always more extensive than plot."

It is logical for the queen to die of grief, but the important fact is that she died - the story revolves around that - grief is our excuse for this particular death.

But let us focus on story - the fact she died.

Questions for Dear Dead Beat should be submitted through the Comment section

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I may have a problem, but I'm not sure. I enjoy reading stories that say a lot in very few words, and often leave things out purposely in order to engage the reader's imagination. I like my reading to challenge me as well as entertain, and I try to write stories in the same way. This often translates into cutting. It's common for a 3000 word draft to finish at 1200 words by the time I'm ready to publish. What may or may not be a problem is that some people who read my stories don't understand what happened. Of course, some people do understand, but not as many people as might have if the story had stayed around 3000 words. A lot of writing instructors I've studied with are quick to slap my hand when I say some readers just don't get the story and remind me that it's not the reader's responsibility to bring clarity to a story, but mine. When does this become a concern for the writer? Should one purposely craft their stories to satisfy the larger audience? Or will some readers just not get it and that's okay?

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