Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 15, 2015

Story is Different From Plot


rosh hashanah gefilte fish

Amalia Hoffman sent in this cute card to help everyone enjoy the holiday. Amalia was featured on Illustrator Saturday September 18, 2010. You can also visit her website at:


Plot provides forward motion through action toward resolving an important problem introduced in the beginning of a novel or short story.

Story is different from plot. Some teachers define story as synonymous with plot. In casual use it is. But it has a specific function in craft. Every work of fiction has (or should have) an external storyline, the plot, and an internal, psychological storyline, which I am calling story.

Plot springs from story, and story reveals why the protagonist takes particular actions in the plot. The answer to why supports theme.

For example: An unmarried woman becomes obsessed with adopting a Bulgarian orphan she fell in love with even though the country finds her marital status unacceptable. That outlines the plot.

However, the same woman, whose mother abandoned her as a youngster, will stop at nothing to adopt the child who fulfills her own need for being taken care of. That explains her actions by supplying the internal, psychological story.

Notice how the sentence describing the plot creates visual pictures; you can begin to conjure scenes. The sentence describing story is thematic; it converys the underlying psychological need that drives the mother. says, “Developing a plot involves tight specifics that can be summed up in a sentence or two. Developing a story involves using creative thought, and adding in details, character traits, and embellishments to make the story more engaging.”

When writing, the plot is usually derived first. You know which direction you wish to take your story, and how it is going to end up where you want it. A well developed plot can create an incredible story, but a well developed story does not necessarily indicate a great plot.”


1. Plot is the heartbeat of a story.

2. Plot development equals a better story.

3. Story development does not equal a better plot.

4. The same story can be repeated with changes in the plot to create different stories.

5. Plot development is brief, specific, and tight.

6. Story development is about creating details and embellishments to make the plot engaging.

7. The plot is very much like the outline of the story, while the story is why you watch or read the event.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This was an excellent post. I will link to it in future writing workshops. Well said. Thanks!


  2. Yes, an excellent post, and I love all the colors in Amalia’s card. L’shanah Tovah, Kathy.


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