Plot is the arrangement of incident in your novel. The writer can arrange the events in their novel in one of the following ways.
Straightforward chronological order
Start at the end and explain how everything turned out this way
Start somewhere in the middle (In Medias Res to talk technical)
With the last two forms the writer will have to employ the use of flashbacks to fill in the gaps.
In very basic terms plot is made up with the following elements.
Exposition – begin with the background information the reader need to make sense of the situation the characters find themselves in; how much you show at this stage is up to you but the current ideal for popular fiction is to start with very little exposition.
Rising Action – introduce complications which intensify the situation.
Foreshadowing – suggest what is yet to come, this can be used to build tension.
Suspense – these moments will delay the plot to keep the reader wondering what happens next. Remember the wise words by Charles Reade “Make ’em laugh; Make ’em cry; Make ’em wait!”
Climax – scene where the ultimate struggle occurs.
Resolution – some final scenes which tie up any loose ends and let the reader know how it all turned out.
A well-plotted novel, a real page turner, keeps the reader guessing and uses rising action, suspense and foreshadowing in a series of events to keep the reader on the edge of their seat and concerned about what is going to happen to the protagonist.