LESSON "Plot", "Setting", and "Genre"; the definitions and differences

Discussion in 'REFINING WRITING' started by Minibit, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. I see these words used interchangeably a lot, and many roleplayers will have more specific definitions for these words and more, but for those confused or frustrated, here are the dictionary definitions (according to my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary) and their connotations in a roleplay forum.

    Plot - (n) ... 2) the main sequence of events for a play, novel, etc. ...

    The plot is, put simply, the story. It doesn't need to include the ending for a roleplay, since many players prefer to let the story twist and change as ideas are added by different people, but it should include at least two of the three things necessary for a story
    1. A Problem.
      Stories in their most basic form are about characters who have a problem and fix it. The problem can be anything you want, but without any kind of conflict or problem for the characters to work on, there is no plot.
    2. Complications.
      Stories are boring if the problem is solved right away with no excitement; there need to be smaller problems in between the main problem and the resolution to keep the story interesting.These smaller, interference problems are called 'Plot Candies' or "Plot Bunnies' by some, and they are the twists and turns that keep a story interesting as it progresses
    3. Resolution.
      Many players prefer not to have a planned ending for a roleplay, as it can be restricting to twists and turns if the story must end a particular way. However it's usually a good idea to have some form of resolution in mind for the problem, even if you don't plan the particulars of how it will play out.
    Setting - (n) 1) The position or manner in which a thing is set. 2) the immediate surroundings; the environment of a thing. 3) The place and time in which a story, drama, etc. is set. ...

    Setting refers to where the story happens. It can be as specific as a highschool, or as broad as a whole country or planet. Some roleplayers give significant locations in the story a predetermined setting, and make the rest up as the characters move. Others prefer to map out every location ahead of time.

    Genre - (n) A style or category of art or literature. (adj) denoting of a film, etc. following the conventions of a recognizable genre.

    Genre (pronounced jon-ruh, with a soft 'J') is the story's category; if this roleplay was a book, where in the library would you look for it? Under Romance? Adventure? Erotica? Horror?


    Some roleplayers use more specific or more vague definitions for these words; for example

    • In romantic or erotic roleplays, the plot is mostly about the relationship between the characters, and may be expressed as simply Character x Character (eg: Ghost x human, cop x criminal, musician x fan)
    • 'Plot' is often used as shorthand for anything that gives the characters somthing to do; whether it's something cool to play with (eg: magical sumons, personal spaceships), or a problem to solve, or even just a situation to watch the characters react to (eg: bringing a character's young child to the fair)
    • 'Setting' may be used to mean 'plot' if the setting is the main point of conflict (eg: a deserted island that the characters are marooned on, a high school for people with strange powers). This is usually used for survival or slice-of-life roleplays.
    • Players who prefer a more free-flowing, relaxed roleplay may omit a driving problem in favour of a wide variety of characters who are interesting to get to know. In this case, characters and a setting are usually provided, but the plot is left free.

    Definition Example:

    This story takes place in the world of Feandor, which is technologically advanced to about the 17th century; it also has magic and other fictional races and creatures like elves and dragons. (Setting) We play a ragtag group of misfits who have been chosen by the patron spirit of the country for their individual skills; they must band together to destroy the Evil Overlord before he unbalances the spiritual forces of the whole world and plunges it into ruin. (Plot) Along the way, they will encounter dangerous creatures, battle sickness and injury, betrayal, hunger, despair, and maybe even love. (Complications/plot candies)
    (The genre of this would be Fantasy or High Fantasy)
     
    #1 Minibit, Feb 24, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
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