On Plot vs. Theme

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Plot and theme are two elements that draw an audience into a work of fiction, be it novels, TV shows, or movies. They often times work together and reflect each other, but they’re very different.

Plot is the story line itself. It’s the circumstances that spur the actions of the characters and how the situation plays out. People are often drawn in by plot because of elements of suspense and the question, “what will he/she do next?” TV shows are notorious for drawing the audience in with the plot. Episodes and season finales often leave off with cliffhangers to ensure people will watch the next episode. A great and recent example of this is “Breaking Bad.” I’m currently in the throes of needing to watch the next episode. I’m so close to the end and it’s killing me to get through my writing. NO SPOILERS.

Theme, on the other hand, is the universal message that arises from the story. It is often a result of plot. If there’s a good plot, there’s often a good theme. The theme is the lesson learned, and what the audience takes away from the story when it’s all finished. I find myself searching for themes in stories. I look deep into how the characters interact and what actions brought about what results. Since art is an imitation of humanity, the themes can be awfully telling. “Lost” is a show with powerful themes. It tells a story, but ultimately at the end the message is to let go of everything that happened, so the plot turns out to not be so important. Still, this show is so powerful.

My question today for “Two Way Hump Day” is:

What do you think draws the audience in more? Is it the ideas behind the story? Or wanting to find out what happens next?

Remember, you can respond in the comments below or write your own post on it and tag it “Two Way Hump Day.”

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