Whether you are writing a novel or a short story you need to know exactly what your main plotline is. This is the spine of your story and from which all other pieces hang. So it pays to take the time to work it out. Let me talk you through how you can build this plotline.
I thought it was about time I addressed plotting and conflict. The plot is the pathway that winds through your story. It is the veins that carry the characters, the intrigue, the tension. So, it is pretty important. A writer should spend time working on their plot. They should stand in the middle of the vast flatland of their story until they see at least some semblance of a pathway. It might be a straight road, a winding, twisting footpath or a spider-web of tracks that continually intersect.