Plausible plotting starts with cause and effect. Make sure each step in your plot has a causative event, and one of more effects. Character actions should be caused by some motivation, and should have some effect on the plot. In fact, a good way to outline your plot is to list the 6-10 major plot events (the "turning points"), and then identify the cause of each event, and the effect of each event. That way you'll create a frame of cause and effect, like this:
Then you can see how each of the events flows into the next to create the overall plot.
Cause: Jane is so afraid that she blew the SATs that the next morning she runs away from home.
Event-- She joins the circus and learns to do trick-horse-riding.
Then look at that big event and after it jot down the EFFECT of the event-- internal and/or external.
EFFECT: At the circus she is befriended by the bearded lady and realizes looks aren't everything.
The ringmaster notices her talent and suggests that she become a full-time employee and travel with them.
Then go on to the next turning point event.
Then when you're done, you'll have The Cause, The Event, and The Effect-
- a whole string of them.
Example: In the start of Wizard of Oz, Dorothy sensibly takes shelter from the tornado. But of course, the tornado is going to take her to Oz, so she has to get out of the tornado shelter, right? Notice though that the writer didn’t just have her run out of the shelter; rather her beloved dog escapes, and she runs out to save him— the best motivation! This “cause/effect” doesn’t just force the plot forward, but deepens the characterization: We now know more about what matters most to Dorothy.
Your turn! Be tough on yourself. J Consider your own plot. Find an event that “just happens” , like “he just happens to stumble and break his leg.” Now how can you change that to something that is “caused” by another plot event sequence, and “motivated” for the character? For example, “He is running for a touchdown in his company’s pickup game, because he wants to impress the boss.”
You might find just identifying the problem event will inspire you to find a good cause/effect sequence!