All stories have to have a plot or they are not stories. The plot of a story is comprised of the events that occur in the story. It is a series of dramatic events, interconnected and related to one another. Stories are cohesive events, not random ones. Take the following ‘story’.
The star filled the view screen of Tom’s space fighter. He careened away from it, hoping his pursuer would miss the turn. He didn’t. Tom spun desperately and fired his lasers, blasting at his pursuer.
The family trudged alongside their Conestoga wagon. Mary wondered if Luke still thought uprooting their family and travelling across the prairie would lead them to a better life. It didn’t feel better, her feet hurt and her back ached. Luke had tied all their money up in the oxen and the wagon. Betsey fell and started to cry. Mary stopped to help her daughter up. She soothed her and urged her to hurry so that they could catch up to the wagon.
Larry put his wrench on the nut and tightened it. He started to move to the next bolt he needed to tighten in the rig. Something pulled him back. He turned to see his air hose catch on the rig. Damn, he’d been careless again. Ominous bubbles appeared. "I need help," he called to his dive buddy, Len.
The preceding paragraphs are not a story. They are all dramatic events, but they do not make a plot. The dramatic events of a plot must connect in some way that will make sense to a reader. Your life is not a series of random events and neither are stories, nor should they be. A story is a series of events or scenes that string together into a whole. This is the plot.
The plot is the framework on which the details of a story hang. Without a plot, a story falls flat. Setting may be perfect for the story; characters may speak and behave as real people do, but if the plot is not there, there is no story or at least, there is a very poor one. Plot provides structure to stories. Plot is like the supporting structure that holds a house together. Take away the support and the building falls down. It’s the same for stories.
Some authors meticulously plan their stories like architects drawing up blueprints, planning every support beam that goes into their building. Others just seem to throw together some walls and a ceiling and call it a house, they know what they want it to look like, but they have to build it from the picture they have of it in their minds. No matter which kind of author is writing; both types use some sort of structure to create their stories.
Plot is one of the most important parts of a story. Understanding how a plot works to support a story makes writing both easier and harder to do. It makes it easier because it gives authors the proper tools to create their stories. It makes writing a story harder, because it often prevents authors from forging ahead on their stories. However, that is precisely what authors have to do, build the framework first and fill in the details later. That will make the story stronger just as a good solid frame makes for a stronger house.