Posts tagged ‘story’

Story and Plot are Not the Same Thing

By Chad Upton | Editor

Movies are extremely captivating because of their complex combination of: music, characters, dialogue, lighting, story, plot and everything else. Yes, story and plot.

These two words are often used interchangeably. I don’t have a problem with that, but I do find this little known fact interesting and heck, that’s what this site is all about.

Whether you’re talking about books, films or campfire tales, the differentiation between story and plot applies. I’ll start by oversimplifying the difference:

Story is what happens; plot is how those events are presented.

To be more specific: the story is a chronological arrangement of the events, including everything you’re presented with and also the implied or assumed events that you are not explicitly given. On the other hand, the plot includes everything that contributes to how you experience the story, including everything you see and hear, but not including the story events that are implied or assumed.

These two words are confusing because the elements they describe have some overlap — the parts of the story that you see are also part of the plot. While they do have this overlap, it is important to note that both plot and story include elements that do not overlap. Lets look at a popular film for example.

By now, I think most people have seen The Hangover (2009). If you haven’t, that’s ok, there are no spoilers beyond this point, but there is a basic description of the story and plot.

At a high level, it’s a comedy about four guys who go to Las Vegas and lose their friend, then retrace their steps to find him.

At the start of the film, the main characters are already friends; the film doesn’t show you how the core group of people met or became friends. Because we don’t see when they originally met, the formation of their friendship is part of the story, but not the plot.

The second act begins with the characters waking up from a blackout. Their hotelroom is a mess, but they can’t remember what happened the night before. The plot jumps from the night before to the morning after and skips everything in between. Because we did not see what happened, the events the plot skipped are just part of the story at this point.

The story ends by revealing something that happened the night before. Because the events in the story are rearranged (the plot), the viewer is part of the adventure, they know just as much as the characters. The plot makes the story more captivating because we want to know what happened, just as bad as the characters.

In movies, the plot also includes the music and credits because these are not generally part of the story — they’re not things the characters experience, but they do affect how viewers experience the story. This is where The Hangover does something really interesting; during the credits they show some still “pictures” from parts of the story that were skipped in the plot, bringing those elements that were once only part of the story into the plot too.

Bonus fact: music can be part of the story if, for example, there is a person/band/radio in the scene that is playing music.

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Sources: Film Art (ISBN 0073386162)

August 7, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

The Word “Nerd” Was First Written by Dr. Seuss

By Kaye Nemec

Although many of us know Dr. Seuss as a children’s author, it was his 15 year career in advertising that really made him famous.

He started working as a freelance writer and illustrator when his talents caught the eye of the ad industry. His first big hit came when he coined the popular catchphrase, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” Today, it would be comparable to, “There’s an app for that.”

Realizing he had a gift for both illustrating and writing, Seuss wrote his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street. After submitting it to 27 publishers and receiving 27 rejections, Mulberry Street was finally published with the help of a friend at Vanguard Publishing.

It was a huge hit among teachers and librarians so Houghton Mifflin and Random House asked Seuss to write a children’s book using new-reader vocabulary. They gave him 400 words but told him to cut the list in half. Nine months later, the result was the widely popular, The Cat in the Hat (1957). It uses 223 of the words on the original list and 13 words that are not. Of the 236 words used, 221 are monosyllabic. In three years, about 1 million copies of The Cat in the Hat were sold.

After the success of The Cat in the Hat, Seuss’ editor, Bennett Cerf, bet him that he could not write a children’s book using only 50 different words – 186 fewer words than he used for The Cat in the Hat. In 1960 Seuss won the bet when he published Green Eggs and Ham, a story of only 50 words, 49 of which have only one syllable. It has since become one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.

Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated several children’s books, most of which have unique histories or quirky facts associated with them. The first time the word ‘nerd’ was used in print was in If I Ran to the Zoo. That wasn’t his first new word, ‘Grinch’ became mainstream after Seuss used it in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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Photos: Joe (cc), davemc500hats (cc)

Sources:, Wikipedia – Green Eggs & Ham, Wikipedia – The Cat in the Hat, Barnes & Noble

January 19, 2011 at 2:00 am 4 comments

The History of Valentine’s Day

By Chad Upton | Editor

Where did Valentine’s Day come from?

I’d like to say that some marketing genius at Hallmark was looking for a good reason to sell cards between Christmas and Easter, but that’s not the case. Although, they’re not shy about making the best of it — Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday for sending cards (Christmas is the leader). Approximately one billion Valentine cards are sent each year.

In elementary school, we used to decorate giant Valentine’s Day envelopes and hang them from our desks. Then we would buy a box of Valentine Cards and write a nice message for every person in our class, except the ones we didn’t like. After that, we’d walk around the room and drop the cards in each others envelopes. That was usually the end of the day, but just before we left, the teacher would feed us cake until we were mad and turn us loose on the neighborhood. (more…)

February 12, 2010 at 12:08 am 1 comment

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