PLOT AND STORY
I taught this class on using fairy-tales to more clearly see how plots work. Fairy-tales don’t have much character development so it’s easier to see how a story moves. When I was preparing for the class and as I was teaching it, I began to think that it was helpful to think of plot and story differently.
Plot is simple. It’s just what happens in the story. You need to have it to keep things moving along. This happens. That happens. Looking at fairy-tales is very helpful for this.
Story is the complications, complexity, contradictions, desires, obstacles that make a novel the messy thing we all love. These developments give depth to the plot. There’s external character motivation and internal motivation. Often times these drive the story. There’s the subtext that gives greater meaning to the story. There’s what the characters want and what gets in the way of that and the result. There’s the theme: what’s it all about? And more. It’s easy to get lost in all this.
So once you have a draft and you’re trying to see what you have might consider the differences between plot and story; it might help to summarize what happens in a chapter by chapter kind of way and analyze plot and then look at what else is going on. It’s one way to see your draft from another perspective.
For another way of looking at this see these plot questions from the editor Cheryl Klein