story vs. plot, once again

So I’ve been thinking about novels and films that worked for me, personally, and comparing in each case story to plot. If you were hanging around a week ago or so you’ll remember that I defined story as what happened, in order and plot as the artful rearrangement of what happened.

Mysteries, by definition, can’t just give you the story, but depend on arranging the elements into a particular kind of plot. Most genre fiction depends very much on plot. You may know, in a classic western, that the good guys will somehow or another prevail; what you don’t know is, how. The artful revelation of the story is the thing. The same is true of romance. The same is true, on a different scale, for joke telling. People who can tell a joke have a talent for knowing when and how to let the punch line go. Good storytellers are often good at telling jokes.

So now I’m trying to think of a novel that had a flawed story but an excellent plot, or t’other way around.

Let me know if you have any such examples.Today I’m on my way to Gig Harbor, Washington to teach a creative writing workshop, but I should be back later tomorrow and will certainly post something by the end of the weekend.