I often read or listen to people use the word plot and storyline interchangeably. Are they really describing the same thing? I checked the online Webster’s Dictionary, and it uses each term to describe the other. Interesting. But as I grow as a writer, I think there is a difference.
My first efforts at story writing started with the scenes in my head. I’d replay them over and over until I had a full movie. This method caused many apologies to the lady at the grocery store (Excuse me, I didn’t mean to run over your foot), the dog staring and I’m sure thinking, What? No walk this morning or tonight?, and the neighbor telling me about some escape convict on the loose in our neighborhood (Sorry, what did you say?). This story writing business is not for multitasking.
So that brings me back to plot and story. There’s an idea for an MG novel that has been swimming around my head for some time. It’s rather involved and despite attempts at making it work in my head, I wasn’t getting very far. There were too many elements to consider. I needed a list of events that would pull me from beginning to end. Point A to point B etc. This to me is the storyline. A road map for the journey that lies ahead.
After putting those events on paper, I was satisfied with the rough outline, but there still was no plot. To move ahead I need to know how I will tell the story. That means defining characters and deciding on tense and narrative choices. Most important, how will the events in my story tie together for the reader? That to me is the heart of having a plot.
I’ll get there eventually with this one, although I may have to move away from the Halloween candy bowl. It’s already getting rather skimpy looking. I hope everyone has a happy Halloween!