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Story vs. Plot

Discuss the difference of story and plot, and how each contribute to the film experience an audience has. Many people think that story and plot are the same thing; however, the story consists of any events that impact the characters, while plot consists of what we see on the screen.

  • A good idea for a topic sugestion, Sarah. After all, how often to people generally misunderstand the difference between story, plot, summary and synopsis, even exposition for that matter? You have my vote. – Amyus 4 years ago
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  • I think it's a good topic, too, but I don't share your definitions of story and plot. You write: "the story consists of any events that impact the characters, while plot consists of what we see on the screen." For me, it doesn't matter if something happens on screen or off screen. What matters is whether or not there is causality. E.M. Forster famously wrote: "‘A plot is also a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality – “The king died and then the queen died” is a story.’ But ‘“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.’" Forster's definition isn't the only one out there, of course, but it's a standard one. As I understand it, "story" has simply to do with the telling of events in time. This happened, and then that happened, and so on. When we talk casually to a friend about what happened the previous day, for example, we often tell a story but often are not thinking at all about plot. We usually haven't plotted out a chain of events that leads to some resolution. We're usually just telling what happened -- that happened, then that, etc. -- over the course of the day. Maybe a specific example or two from film would go a long way toward convincing me! :) – JamesBKelley 4 years ago
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