The Importance of Plot.

1. a plan made in secret by a group of people to do something illegal or harmful.
"there's a plot to overthrow the government"
synonyms: conspiracy, intrigue, secret plan; machinations

2. the main events of a play, novel, movie, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence.
Okay, for starters, I love that the first entry of plot is a plan made in secret by a group of people to do something illegal or harmful. In my world, a plot is always the second definition, but it makes me feel so much more illicit talking about plans to do something illegal.
There are two types of plots, character driven and story driven. Mine fall into the first category. My feeling on the subject is that in real life, plots are driven by the motivations and actions of people. In this case, it is difficult for me to point out the plot of my story. I know that the story is driven by the actions of people, but I have a hard time saying, “In Bento Box, the plot is about this strange technology that gives the operator the ability to jump into another person’s body and take it over.” For me, the plot is, “Orochi is looking for revenge after Parris kills his parents.” It’s the same story, and both of these statements are true, but when I’m writing, I tend to give my characters their head and then figure out what the consequences of their actions are.

This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. My husband, for example, is the kind of person who has a thoroughly thought out plot for his stories. Typically, he spends hours thinking about the back story, about why the culture is the way it is. He’s a world builder. The plots are vast and twisting, and pick up the characters and sweep them along in its wake. It’s unfortunate for us all that he doesn’t have the first interest in sitting down and getting these ideas out on paper, because his ideas are always fascinating.

Plot driven stories are great for writers. Everyone has one great idea to explore, at least. An example of a plot driven story is Seven Eves, by Neal Stephenson. Spoiler alert, the moon blows up. This idea sweeps the entirety of humanity along in its wake, as people try to figure out how they’re going to survive the aftermath. The moon’s disintegration is not a man-made event, at no point is this a character decision. Stephenson takes the story from just before the event to 5,000 years in the future. Unless you have a very long lived character, it’s hard to keep a character driven plot going for that long.

Either way, plot is the flow of the story, the winding road that takes you from start to finish through a piece of fiction. It can be a short, singular thought, as in a short story, or it can be a sixteen story epic, each tome thicker than the last. It needs to have good bones, as this is what the story’s structure is going to hang from, but it doesn’t have to be a completely unique piece in order to provide a good story. Look at Shakespeare, and the mileage he got out of love stories. Turn out well? Comedy. Turn out bad? Tragedy. Same story, wash rinse repeat. That is why some stories seem so recognizable, despite you never having seen it before. Chances are, you did.