I put off discussing plot, because it's so difficult. Many people complain about plotting. It's particularly a problem for organic writers such as myself. We have this overall impression of a profound and meaningful concept or situation, but we don't have the details down. And plot, which is the series of causal steps that make up a story, has a lot to do with detail.
So many people have trouble with plot you'd assume that it's a good thing that so much is written about it. There are lots and lots of plot planning information and how-tos out there. Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing about some of them. To get started, take a look at Why The Hero's Journey is a Tourist Trap by Lisa Cron (Wired for Story), which appeared at Writer Unboxed just this past week.
The Hero's Journey describes common elements that occur in mythic tales and even some contemporary ones. In the years since it was first identified by Joseph Campbell, it has become the basis for workshops and books on plotting. In Cron's article for Writer Unboxed, she argues that writers should start with character before plot and that conforming to a plot pattern like the very formal one involved with the Hero's Journey doesn't necessarily mean creating a a particularly compelling story. It's just a structure.
Cron says, "Focus on the story first, then worry about structure..." But, remember, that means knowing your story in the first place.