The most important thing (or second-most important thing) in a story is plot. Basically, you don't have a story if you don't have a plot. Plot is particularly important in speculative fiction because readers expect a plot. There are many definitions of plot, such as: the sequence of events and happenings that make up a story. I prefer to think of it as the actions the character(s) take to solve the story problem(s) and the resulting resolution.
A literary professional told me recently the number one "plot" they see in queries is the wandering protagonist. She said this is not, in fact, a plot and they never request these manuscripts. It's worth repeating: someone wandering around is not a plot. On the other hand, someone seeking something for some specified purpose is a plot. A quest, then, may resemble someone wandering around, but it is a very different animal.
Some people say there are only a few basic plots, such as
- the quest
- overcoming a monster
- rags to riches
- voyage and return
I don't care what you call it or how you classify it, just show us your plot.
Next week I hope to start updating you on our next Electric Spec issue, the notable November 2016 issue.