Literary jargon like plot and story are often used excessively to describe the same thing. But in this post we’re going to define plot in relation to story, so you can understand the difference. But also, understand how they’re connected. So what is plot in a story?

What’s Plot?

What does plot mean in a story?

Getting too hung up on semantics is never a good thing, but I do want to make one point. Some people use the words ‘story’ and ‘plot’ interchangeably. Keep in mind, the story of Peter Pan is about a boy who doesn’t want to grow up; the plot refers to all the events that show us that’s true. 

Let’s get into it.

Plot Definition

What is the plot of a story?

The plot of a story is in reference to the sequence of events that tell the story. The plot encompasses all of the events or actions happening to or being created by the characters. It’s what we watch on screen or read on the page. A story is what we experience from those events. 

Plot is not character, setting, or theme. 

Plot Example: A piece of the plot in Peter Pan is Peter taking Wendy and the boys to Neverland. The entire collection of plot, character, setting, and theme, is the story.

Note, while characters aren’t the plot, they do inform the plot. 

If the characters aren’t specifically connected to the plot or vice versa, the story could come out questionable. 

In other words, if you’re writing a story and could replace your characters with completely different characters at any point, and the plot still makes sense, there’s a chance your story’s point isn’t fully realized. 

Again, a plot is the sequence of events usually caused by characters making decisions, and those characters have to be making decisions that are organic to them. Make sure everything is connected for a sensical, well thought out story.

If you want to learn more about writing plot structure, things to avoid, or even how to build a great plot, read our next article. 

Up Next

How to Build a Great Plot

A basic foundation of plot is helpful, but now it’s time to get into it. How can you build a great plot? What should you consider, and what should you avoid? In the next post, learn from some of the most iconic films and start plotting. 

Up Next: Build a Great Plot →
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