Quite simply, plot can be defined with a question. What will happen next? But in order for the reader to wonder this, there’s a lot of thinking to be done on the writer’s part and within these questions, he/she must come up with believable ways in which to always keep the story moving forward.
And for me, it is very comforting to know that a plethora of writers don’t outline or rely on plot. Like Stephen King and many others, I usually start with a basic scene, character, sometimes a theme (though rarely) and follow the characters. I allow them to show me the way, and I like it that way. It’s only through the exploration and development of character that plot is revealed.
The late E.L. Doctorow said it just right:
“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Though somewhat unorthodox (nothing wrong there,) another method of exploring plot can be achieved by juxtaposition and causality. However, one must discover how to justify them. Take James Joyce’s classic, Ulysses, as a great example of juxtaposing two or more seemingly unrelated things and somehow making them work.