Lee Goldberg’s A Writer’s Life points us to a conveniently-timed follow-up to last night’s discussion about the differences between the storytelling modes of TV and movies, John Rogers has an in-depth dissection of story versus plot that hits on exactly that topic. John notes that on most TV shows, characters are trying to resume the status quo rather than truly growing and changing–but I’m happy to say he also points out that our hero Joss Whedon actually does incrementally change his characters over time such that the cumulative effect of those changes produces actual growth. And that cumulative effect is what I’m ultimately interested in as a writer and as a reader/viewer/consumer.
John’s post delves further into the crucial differences between story (what happens to your characters) versus plot (how it happens to your characters). I’d never heard that delineation before and I think it actually clarifies a couple of issues I’ve been working through in my head over the last week or so. Though he’s discussing screenwriting in particular, I think what he has to say about the three-act structure applies more or less universally across story formats.
(As a bonus, he uses Brad Bird’s brilliant screenplay for The Incredibles as his tool for demonstrating the difference.)