Every good novel needs a structure. A solid building has foundations, without which it would collapse. The modern novel needs foundations to support the story in just the same way. In my humble experience setting the foundations makes life so much easier. Trial and error and countless rejection letters have paved my way to where I stand today; on the beginning of knowledge.
Plotting is just one of the foundation tasks I find necessary to complete - in some detail - before even starting to write the story. So, how do you plot? There are thousands of books available dedicated to the art of writing, building characters, plotlines, structure, themes...
Plotting in my world can be as simple or as complex as I choose to make it. I tend to think of the plotline in an arc shape. Every plotline has its ups and downs, its climax and its resolution. Personally, I have eight points on my arc, and I ensure that the story twists and turns effectively around every point.
To begin, I list the points of the arc, then I toy with the order of the story's critical points until they fit nicely into the most dramatic sequence possible.
Once the main plotline is configured into an order of revelation I do the same with all sub-plots, ensuring that they weave into the main plotline in the right places.
I've never tried ths method myself but some people have yellow post-it notes and they move them around on a table until they're happy with the order. I do much the same but on the laptop screen with cut and paste. If you struggle to plot out your story then try this method and see if it helps.
Next time - characters and how to create reality within fiction.