In this episode, I describe the difference between story structure and storytelling. Story structure has no subject matter involved – it is simply a map of the relationships among concepts. For example, if two concepts are in opposition, it doesn’t matter if they are night and day or sweet and sour, protagonist and antagonist or conscience and temptation. Similarly, if a goal is to obtain stolen diamonds and another story’s goad is to obtain a secret code, they are both goals of obtaining something – the structure is the same, only the specifics of exactly what the characters are trying to obtain is different , and that part is therefore storytelling. It is hard, sometimes, to determine what is structure and what is storytelling, for example, if someone wishes to become more compassionate as a goal, that is different than someone wishing to obtain the quality of compassion. Why? Because in the first case, the character wants to become a different kind of person, while in the second case, the person simply wants to add an attribute to their list of traits. We have often described “becoming” as a goal by saying that to become something, you can’t simply be like it is, but you also must “not be” like it isn’t. So, someone who simply adds the quality of compassion does not necessarily become wholly compassionate. They might simply have achieved a duality of having both a sense of compassion and also still have a conflicting quality of not caring.
Of course, that’s all “black belt” level structural stuff – too nit-picky for most purposes. But still, consider Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story and give some thought as to how they differ and how they are the same. They differ in storytelling, they are very similar in structure.
Here’s the link to the video which covers the more practical story development considerations on the topic: