Here are a few highlights from Laini Taylor's breakout section on plot:
Everything we do in writing is a balance between dramatization and narration.
Plot is the answer to the question, "What happens?"
"What is the story about" is not a question about plot. That is about premise and themes.
The plot is the sequence of events over which your themes, your premise, your conflicts, and your character growth play out.
Plot is, by definition, the stuff that happens. It's true that there are a limited number of basic plots because our wants and needs are simple and rather primal. Humans need food, shelter, and love--"clothing optional depending on climate."
Readers need connection, enjoyment, and satisfaction.
For readers to connect, character or characters to care about or even be. Think about all the Pride & Prejudice movies and remakes. Or even Twilight. To be passionately loved by someone amazing is a primal need. The unlikely hero is also compelling.
Plot is driven by your characters' desire and action. What do your characters want? Characters must have a desperate goal that is thwarted. The author is a rascal, rooting for his protagonist, even while thwarting him.
It's the motivation of the antagonist that drives the plot. The villain wants something and sets about making it happen. The main character's job is to prevent it.
Conflict is the elemental building block of plot.
Find more of Laini's essays on writing here.