E.M Forester’s Aspects of the Novel (put it on your list, it’s like a pocket MFA) outlines the difference between story and plot:

Story can only have one merit: that of making the audience want to know what happens next. ‘The king died and then the queen died’ is a story.’

‘A plot is also a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality – ‘The king died and then the queen died’ is a story.’ But ‘’the king died and then the queen died of grief’ is a plot. The time-sequence is preserved, but the sense of causality overshadows it.


D-Day is a story. Saving Private Ryan is a plot (right there in the title.)

Ludacris’ lyric ‘so much money!’ is a story. Gucci Mane’s ‘So much money that I valet park my bicycle’ is a plot.

‘Don’t eat before you go swimming’ is a story. ‘Don’t  eat before you go swimming or you’ll get a cramp and drown’ is a plot. (It’s also not true.)

‘We’re going to build a wall between the United States and Mexico,’ is a rather ugly story. ‘…and Mexico is going to pay for it’ is a plot with a few holes.

I prefer JFK’s story ‘we shall go to the moon,’ and the plot ‘…not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.’