Difference Between Plot and Setting


Main Difference

The main difference between the plot and setting is that the plot is the sequence of events or main actions in a story and setting is the place, the time, and the social situation in which a story takes place

Plot vs. Setting

The plot is the course of a story contains a series of events which are gradually unfolded, sometimes by unexpected means. The setting is the time, place and circumstance in which something (story or picture) is set. The plot is the essential element of any writing piece that tells the readers the actual story. The setting is the essential element of writing that tells the readers about outside things. Plot conveys the actual events of the story with a precise structure that has a beginning, middle, and the end. Setting let the readers know all about the location, the social conditions, the timeline, the weather conditions, etc. The plot of a writing piece is its story, or the order of the events is taking place inside it. It is always sequential and logical with a beginning, middle and finally the ending which is all very logical and makes sense to the readers. Through the setting, the readers can imagine and visualize a lot about the time, the place, the theme, and the conditions prevailing in the story. Also, it leads the readers to make a judgment about the mood or the atmosphere. The plot is always an introduction and a climax where the conflict is at its peak to keep the readers involved and interested. The setting of a story tells so much to the readers. It lets readers know the geographical location of the characters. It also reveals the timeline as to the century or the year in which the events depicted in the story took place.


Comparison Chart

It is the sequence of events and happenings that make up a story.It is the time, place and situation where the story takes place.
Narrates the storyDescribes the backdrop and create the mood
Refers To
The sequence of events and actionsThe suitable situation, time and place
Keep the readers involved and interestedLet the readers know everything about the story

What is Plot?

The plot is the whole series of the events of the story. The plot unfolds through story, scenes, events, and dialogue. It is concerned with events which happen to the main characters and which have an impact on their decisions. A plot has sub-plots with one main plot. Sub-plots are added to expand the tension of the main story or to complicate it, but the main plot gets the ore emphasis. The term plot includes the sequence of happenings and events that compose the story. These happenings and events are related and affect each other throughout the story. The events take place according to the pattern, and one event becomes the cause or the result of another. Plots can vary from simple structures to complicated structures. A plot is the most important element in a piece of literary writing. There are five main elements or parts of the plot.


Elements of the Plot

  • Exposition
  • Rising Action
  • Climax
  • Falling Action
  • Resolution

What is Setting?

The setting in a literary piece refers to the time and place in which the story is taking place. It gives certain information about the historical period, geographical location, immediate surroundings, social conditions and weather relevant to the story. It is one of the major literary elements of a story setting. It gives the background of the story and helps to create a mood. The setting is the place of a story. It contains locations (bedroom, office, cafe, restaurant, cities or countries or planets, era or age, time of day, etc.). In addition, it also tells the underlying situation or condition of a piece of writing like weather condition, season, etc. The change in a novel’s setting produces a new story. Settings can be fictional or real, or a combination of both. Some settings are very specific whereas some are descriptive.


  • Influences the word choice, character type, pace, tone, and genre
  • Enhances the story by enfolding character and plot in a place where they fit and where their strengths can best be highlighted
  • Wraps the story in a package that holds the story elements together in a cohesive unit
  • Answers the questions ‘where’ and ‘when’

Key Differences

  1. The plot of a story is the specific order in which things move and happen in a story conversely Setting includes place and time of a story.
  2. The plot narrates the story whereas setting describes the backdrop and helps to create the mood of the reader.
  3. The plot is the general course of a story which includes specific events that determine its course or significant patterns of events on the other hand setting is the place, time and circumstance in which story or picture is set.
  4. The plot is the essential element of any writing piece that tells the readers about the actual story on the flip side setting is the essential element of writing that tells the readers about outside things.
  5. Setting includes the location, the social conditions, the timeline, the weather conditions, in a story and plot includes the order of the events is taking place inside a story.


Plot and setting are the essential and complementary parts of a literary work with many facets.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson