Martha Alderson, otherwise known as The Plot Whisperer, defines plot as, “a series of scenes arranged by cause and effect to create dramatic action filled with tension and conflict to further the characters emotional development and create thematic significance.”
In her book, Blockbuster Plots, Alderson breaks down the above statement an element at a time to explain what each part means.
Cause and effect means that the events that happen in one scene cause the events that happen in the next scene. For the most part, we want our stories to flow from scene to scene and not feel episodic or random. Episodic scenes can make a novel feel disconcerting and choppy. (Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule—I’ve read purposely episodic memoirs or novels where the author intended this. But, the key here is the authors knew what they were doing and used the technique on purpose).
If you want to hear more on cause and effect by Alderson watch this 7-minute video: