Today, Drew and Ryan are discussing Divinity 1, originally released February 11th, 2015.
My feeling is, story is the apple, plot is the arrow through it. (Or, story = mountain, plot = path through the mountain.)
Drew: I’ve often attempted to distinguish between the “story” and “plot” of a narrative, but because those terms are often used interchangeably, I’ve never felt like I was being totally clear. Little did I know that Russian formalist Vladimir Propp had actually coined the specific terms I needed almost a century ago: fabula is the chronological events of the “story”, while syuzhet is the narrative arc as laid out in the “plot”. There are a great many stories where the distinction is trivial — the events of the story are presented in chronological order — but in a world full of flashbacks, flashforwards, and other chronological twists and turns, it’s helpful to be able to differentiate the two.
In most cases, the syuzhet is crafted to enhance the audience’s experience (to obscure a key detail of a mystery or to remind us of a detail as it becomes important), but it can also be used to reflect a character’s subjective experience of the fabula. LOST did this well, showing the audience proustian memories brought about by triggers on the island, but there are a few stories that take that concept a step further, where the character’s experience of the fabula is more explicitly achronological, allowing the syuzhet to track the fabula, even though neither is arranged chronologically. The “backwards” order of Memento simulates Leonard’s anterograde amnesia, and the “Watchmaker” chapter of Watchmen simulates Dr. Manhattan’s omnipotent experience of time. Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine’s new Divinity clearly has a great deal in common with that latter example, even if the subjectivity of the syuzhet is less explicit. Continue reading