We often use story line and plot line to mean the same. However, the story line involves characters that have a desire, a human need, and we follow them through the plot because we can relate to their feelings in situations.
A plot line is about the characters’ actions that follow the plot arc. The key word is actions.An example of the arc in my story, “Life Support,” is on my Time To Write Now blog. If you want to review it, click here. The events I mentioned are placed on this plot structure. The exposition is what we call the inciting incident. The child has been in the hospital for several weeks in horrific pain and not getting any better.
The rising action is that the morphine no longer works to reduce the pain, nothing works. The teacher is concerned that the needle to give her the morphine hurts her, adding to her misery. The child’s physical condition deteriorates with no hope of getting better.
The climax is the parents’ decision, with the help of their priest, to disconnect the life support. They had been worried that she would gasp for air and be frightened when the machines no longer supported her.
The falling action is the parents and priest are present when the machines are stopped. The child passes quickly without fear.
The resolution is that the child is free of pain and the parents are relieved that their daughter was peaceful at the end.
Those actions are the plot line. The story line is about how the characters feel during the actions, what are they worried about, what are their relationships like? The devastating decision for the parents to let their child die and the fear that she’d struggle and the emotions leading up to the decision is a story that resonates with the reader. The promise of the human need for survival runs throughout the plot line.
This essay’s characters and plot are true. Memoir follows fiction’s plot structure.
Editor of Written Across the Genres
Author of Hada’s Fog