What’s The Difference Between Story And Plot?

If Charlie Jane Anders doesn’t have a Phd.D. in How to Teach Creative Writing it’s only because no one on this planet is qualified to test her.

We mean it. See for yourself:

famousfantasticmysteriesby Charlie Jane Anders

People always say the story is the most important thing in good science fiction. But excessively “plot-driven” science fiction is dismissed as mindless or worse. What’s the difference between story and plot anyway?

Are “plot” and “story” just two different ways of saying the same thing? They’re both about a sequence of events that starts in one place and ends in another? (Or goes in a circle, in a hopefully meaningful fashion.) And yet, people seem to use them to describe very different things.

When people talk about a “plot-driven” science fiction book or movie, they’re usually implying that the characters are as wafer-thin as the exploding mint in Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life. The only thing a “plot-driven” work cares about is marching us from one plot point to another. There’s a spaceship that’s going to crash, and we have to stop it! But if the spaceship doesn’t crash, then the hero’s mother will never have been born! And so on. It’s all about the mechanics of the plot.

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