Conflict is the engine of plot. Without a conflict there is no plot. You could argue, without conflict there is no character – we are all of us the products of tension and misunderstanding, challenge and achievement: plot.
Some stories are cunning masterpieces of plot, each step crafted and manipulated like a chess game, while others seem to drift along, aimlessly picking up feeling and meaning like a snowball. These subtle insubstantial plots need to be handled with care to entice a reader, to maintain the reader’s emotional investment in the story. The steam-powered plot grips the reader and sweeps them along in the excitement of what next?
The classic profile of a short story involves a gradual building of plot and momentum until a crisis or climax, followed by a short sharp denouement and resolution. There are no rules however; today a short story can have multiple crises, or none, a tidy resolution or a cliff-hanging ending.