Updated: 10 hours ago
Most times, the question, ‘What is your story?’ gets a response, ‘Once upon a time…?’ An ‘auto-biography’ response might be, ‘I met him/her/them, while visiting….’ Such responses outline the plot of story or story plot. But the difference between ‘Story and Plot’ seems unclear.
Every story, whether true or fiction, follows a certain outlay or plan. That plan ties a series of events from the beginning, through the middle, to the end of the story. These result in a structure. To those extents, a story plan or plot enables movie audiences to follow structured characters’ stories.
The three divisions of an average story following a plan or plot follow Aristotle, a Greek philosopher’s popular three act structure. But then again, story characters must undergo or face challenges for their stories to make meaning to their audiences. Increasing challenges for characters along stories’ plans or plots often motivates remarks like, ’as the plot thickens.’ This means as the story unfolds, answers the question, ‘So what happened after that?’ An undertone of interest, so to say.
This means the story plan or plot will follow certain audience emotional responses in the beginning, middle and the end. Such responses line up in Aristotle’s three act structure as:
Act 1 – Beginning – the start of the character or storyteller’s account.
Act 2- Middle- coming after or following the storyteller’s opening narration or escaping or going after the cause of the initial event.
Act 3- The End- that which follows others or is driven by others; indeed, thereafter causing other things to happen.
How do characters executive the plan or plot of their stories? What elements along the line enable them follow story plans or plot?
Aristotle sees three types of character responses that push them from the beginning, through the middle to the end. Such sensitivities could cause change of intentions to follow the original story plan of plot. This is called Reversal of Intention. This might mean a shift or turning point, where unforeseen events force such decisions.
Another aspect of character’s reaction or change might result from gaining new insights or knowledge about intended goals. This is called Recognition, which might lead to positive or negative responses. A Tragic Incident or end, which might result in casualties, destruction or could be life threatening may also impact on characters’ change of behaviour along the plan or plot.
How these three elements really impact on characters’ decisions come from certain beliefs, values or life principles. It is what characterises characters; more so the inner drive for characters’ sensitivities to effect Reversal of Intention, have Recognition and probably face Tragic Incident great dangers. This is called THEME.
The theme is the life of the story plan or plot, which the character expresses to tell the story. It enriches various answer perspectives to the question, ‘What’s your story?’ Therefore, instead of just answering the question, which unfolds the story from the beginning to the end, it gives reason why the story is necessary. It is the idea or concept behind the story.
It represents characters’ need to do something or solve a problem; which is the reason characters tell their stories in the first place. It is what humanises or add human qualities to characters. They share those with their audiences, who of course are also humans, who happen to have, love or hate such qualities. It is what sets characters on journeys along their story plots.
It follows that character with certain qualities of themes are the basis of stories. Characters’ qualities make lasting good or bad impressions on audiences. So, while plot is story framework or skeleton, characters with certain qualities clothe it with flesh. To that extent audiences are certain on retelling or reliving stories along scenes, acts or sequences at specific plot points or strong themes. Missing those, characters are stripped of their memorable qualities; which are very important to audiences.