A story can be plot driven with a three act structure of beginning, middle, and end or character driven.
The opening is gripping. The lead character has a personal problem, plot problem and is on a profound journey for, self-realization, happiness, something crucial or finally recognized. The protagonist’s bond can be a moral duty. What are the main characters losses if the objective isn’t achieved? In a thriller it can be physical or failure. If it is psychological foreboding atmosphere surrounds the character. Opposition to the protagonist should increase.
Suspense arises naturally from characters and circumstances. From the protagonist the plot includes the readers in; objective a destination, confrontation raising the stakes of importance, there may be a time crunch, inability to take action, or the unknown before the triumph.
In a quest, revenge, friendship, change, adventure, few against, the lone hero, power, an atmosphere of death.
Essential dialogue advances the plot. To describe events the viewpoint character narrative should be in every scene.
A plot has more exciting possibilities when the setting changes. Add another character.
Things that are done are the expertise in each scene to advance the plot, each more profound than the last. Sub plot can slow pace before the next exciting event. To flow smoothly in the sequence of things map them from beginning to end. The antagonist may want to know that their strategy works by playing the protagonist in conversation. The antagonist may be a leader with tenacity.
A strong story structure is created by linking the character and plot closely together.
Events in the story are meaningful causing the character to change. The character’s desire, motivation, weaknesses, and discovered strengths, drive story events.
A character arc is the continued change from beginning to end of the story. It is the believable connected changes, as a result of what has happened. The surface level of happening events, are when the protagonist pursues goals, struggling against forced situations by behavior and reactions. The difficulties in personal weakness cause a change to take place in the protagonist and are under the surface or invisible, the reason to obtain the goals. Other characters with motives and desires add influence and also drive the story’s conflict for a believable story.
The antagonist and protagonist have incompatible goals, if one wins, the other loses. Locked into a struggle, neither one can give up before the end. When one makes a move, the other must react, in a chain of action with reaction advancing the plot forward.
For thrillers everything is increased.