The difference between Story and Plot

The terms story and plot are often used interchangeably.

Hell, I’m guilty of doing it, but the truth of it is, plot and story are two different things. As an author, especially of a genre like romance, it’s important that you know the difference.

Those of you that hate to plot, this is for you.

So let’s break this down into simplest terms possible.

Story is a chronological sequence of events, while plot is the logical structure that connects a sequence of events. So you can have a story without a plot, you can’t have a plot without a story.

There are lots of ways to explain this, but I’m going to use with 
Hemingway’s shortest story.

For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.

Now let’s consider why that is a complete story with a plot.

In order for this to be considered a story, it needs to have a sequence of events or at least one event take place. In the above story, we know that the baby shoes are being sold. That is the event. Someone is selling the baby shoes. The plot takes place in the second sentence: Never worn. Even though the author doesn’t expound on why the shoes were never worn, we can use context clues to explain why. Maybe the baby died. Maybe they out grew them before they could wear them. Either way, that second sentence: Never worn, is the plot of this very short story.

So, you authors who love to pants your novels, this is an important tip for you to remember. Make sure that your story has a plot — a logical structure that creates a sequence of events. If you don’t, it’s just a bunch of shit happening until you write THE END.


Now…show me your work. Write your own very short story and share it using #justthetiptuesday and #thedirtyeditor on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Until next Tuesday….

Happy writing!

The Dirty Editor.

P.S. No one really knows if Hemingway wrote that story, but it’s been attributed to him for so long that we’re just going to go with it.

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