Confusing the plot and the point of a story is a common mistake, even for experienced writers.
For example, if someone were to ask about the plot of the first Avengers movie, they may get a shot-by-shot retelling of the events, but that’s not what the story is about. It’s about a group of individuals who are used to working alone, learning to work together to overcome a greater threat. The characters’ struggle to work together as a team is the main theme of the story.
Similarly, Major Decision follows a 7th-grade boy who dives into the world of wrestling to avoid the guilt he feels over his older brother’s injury. While the plot includes rival challenges, and old friends trying to drag the boy back to his old habits, the story is ultimately about taking responsibility for one’s actions and developing agency.
In Captain Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan, the plot may include James’ life being changed forever by Peter Pan, the ship, the pirates, the island, and the croc. But, the story is really about a mortal standing up against a supernatural, dangerous, chaotic, uncaring, and savage being. It’s about resistance and resilience in the face of death.
One of the comments on a recent video asked about the difference between plot and point in a story. The commenter wrote about a character who is the only one who can see the doppelgänger villain, who is trying to force them to do awful things. The story is not about the scenes and events, but rather the fear of losing control over the life the character has built for themselves. A doppelgänger is a reflection of the character, capable of all their actions and choices, and possesses all their memories and attachments. The stakes in the story are the life the character has built for themselves and the fear of losing it to the evil reflection.
Another example of a doppelgänger story is Spider-Man and Venom. When Peter Parker found the Symbiote on Battleworld during Secret Wars, it seemed like a blessing. He was stronger and faster, but he would wake up exhausted because the Symbiote was taking over his body at night. Peter started to question whether he was using enough force to stop people from hurting each other and whether he was tough enough. When Spider-Man and the Symbiote split, Venom became an evil reflection of what Spider-Man could do if he let go of his humanity. The story is about Peter’s fear of losing control and his refusal to use arbitrary punishment as a deterrent. Venom represents freedom from that fear, but Peter recognizes the consequences are not worth the momentary satisfaction.
So, what is your main character afraid of? What is your story about? Let me know in the comments or send me a message. I’d love to hear it.
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