When we come up with a new idea for a novel, we generally think about it as a summary of a story. It is a phrase that has the seed of what could be our next novel, and it is up to us to make it grow. To do so, we need to develop the story, complete it, and fill it with characters and details. The story is the basic way in which we organize the actions that make up a series of events: first this happens, then that, then something else, and so forth. It is a lineal, simple, and chronological form.
A base story for a novel is much like a journalistic report or a chapter of a study book. The facts take place, each one is a consequence of one or more previous ones, and at the end we reach an outcome which is logical (though not less surprising if we carry the story forward correctly). It is important to highlight the word consequence is this last sentence, as it is a principle that needs to be respected in each paragraph of our story. In the fiction narrative, causality rules, not coincidence. Everything has a prologue, a previous action, a cause, because if any of the actions of our characters or some scene is product of chance, the internal coherence of the story is broken, and as a result we lose credibility facing the reader.
The transformation of this base story into plot depends on two steps: select and order.
First, we have to select which parts of the story we are going to tell, as not all the facts are relevant or interesting from a narrative point of view to be part of our novel. When doing this selection, we will determine the method and duration of exposition of these chosen facts (for example if they will be scenes or summaries, if they will take a few lines or several pages). The second step is to order these relevant facts, giving them a place in our book. There are several ways to order the facts that make up our novel, the most basic one is the chronologic organization, in which events are narrated from the first to the last, in the natural order in which they take place. Our life goes by in chronological way and therefore it is easier to organize stories in the way in which we daily perceive the world.