Let's say that you are working on the outline of a multichapter story. Maybe it's your first! You are bonding with your main characters, you have an idea that encouraged you to write, some inspiring scenes popped in your mind. Well.
But, what is the main conflict of your plot?
Your characters are in a certain situation when their story starts. They will be in a different condition in your last chapter. What is the path that you want them to follow?

Let's read an answer by the author LJ Summers. She's written many well-known stories in the Twilight fandom and she's also a wonderful beta reader, with a very broad experience.
And in real life...she's a published author and a professional editor: she really knows her stuff!
LJ Summers says: 

"You need to have ONE primary conflict that should be introduced in your first chapter and not resolved until your final one (or the penultimate one, depending upon your secondary plots).
Then you have secondary plot points.
If you view this like a braid of hair, you can weave the story by keeping all of your major plot points in hand, combining them at every chapter to some degree. Or at least the main one and one or two lesser.
In my story We Know You, I introduce the Volturi as Bella's enemies at the end of the first chapter. In almost every chapter thereafter, I make reference to them either when bounty hunters show up to get Bella, when she remembers things that happened to her, or when she speculates who might be looking for her. Her relationships and living conditions, loves and duties weave the details of her life, but the story ends when Aro finally comes to collect her to kill her for her "crimes." There is a quick fight and that threat isn't ended until the second half of the last chapter. It wasn't easy to do that...I had to work at it...but it kept the main conflict of her psyche present.

For me, the braid-image helps me to keep the tension balanced in my stories. It might be more like macrame sometimes, though."

As usual, your comments and your writing experiences are welcome!  
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