story versus plot, genre and theme
Screenwriters Beginners,  Screenwriting Basics

Story, Plot, Genre & Theme: What Are There In A Film?

What are the differences between story, plot, genre and theme?

A snowy scenery with a young woman with red lips and black long hair, wearing a white dress and a long red riding hood, is resting her palm on a tree. Behind her there is a wild grey wolf looking towards her.
Image by jill111 on Pixabay and Image by Comfreak on Pixabay modified by me.

Very often we confuse the meanings of story and plot.
Let’s clarify them!

Story and Plot

Firstly, the story is, as everyone understands, some real or imaginary events that are taking place and told for entertainment. On the other hand, the plot is the story of a movie in the particular order we watch it, it is the storyline.

Let’s say that the story of the Little Red Riding Hood is about a little girl that’s being eaten by a Big Bad Wolf.
But the plot of the Little Red Riding Hood is completely different because we don’t know that the Wolf eats her until the end of the tale. So, the plot or the storyline in the Little Red Riding Hood is about a little girl who’s taking food to her grandma who is sick and in the forest she meets a Big Wolf. The wolf arrives first at her grandma’s house, eats her and then pretends to be the grandma and eats the little girl as well.


The genre is basically what kind of movie/story it is. What’s the style of it.
Some very popular genres are:

  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Action movies
  • Thriller
  • Film noir etc.

So, the Little Red Riding Hood is usually an adventure thriller.
But, try to imagine all the possibilities that you get just by changing the genre! For example, what if you choose to tell the Little Red Riding Hood as a comedy? Or even as a romantic comedy!

Four circles with four titles. Story vs. plot, genre, theme.
Story vs. plot, genre, theme.


The theme of a movie is often confused with the story or the plot but in reality, theme is something completely different.

Theme is the idea behind the story, it is the main subject of the story.

So, in the Little Red Riding Hood one of the main themes that underlies is the sexual maturity of young women.
A story can have of course many themes and that’s fine, but usually one or two of them prevail.
Moreover, some times the theme can be changed by the director of the film [always in cooperation with the screenwriter], who can discern a different underlying subject in a story and choose to enhance this, instead of the main theme that is proposed by the story itself. If you’d like to find out more on the Theme of a screenplay I have another post. The theme is one of the most important elements of a screenplay.

I’ve created a video for you on story, plot, genre and theme.

I hope you’ll enjoy it!

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