Plot is what happens in your story. Every story needs structure, just as every body needs a skeleton. It is how you 'flesh out and clothe' your structure that makes each story unique.
Like every child growing up in America, I read 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and 'Huckleberry Finn.' I liked them well enough, but I didn't love them.
I thought it might be fun to set my books in Nevada, which is in the West and still pretty Wild. You can still gamble, carry a loaded pistol, and go into a silver-mine, and they still have saloons with swinging doors, boardwalks, and horses.
At 16, when I was at Henry M. Gunn High School, I had a crush on the English teacher, and my grades improved dramatically. This great school had only 400 students, mostly children of Stanford professors, and it was more usual to have classes under one of the oak trees dotted around the campus than in the classroom.
When someone talks about Western films, you probably think of those old black and white cowboy films your granddad likes. But the Western is a wonderful genre because it is usually a story of a lone hero fighting against corruption in a dangerous world.
Aim to write for an hour per day. I used to be a teacher, and an hour a day before school was all it took for me to write my first book. Don't get discouraged if a holiday or illness interrupts your writing habit. Just start it up again.
After I had written seventeen full-length mysteries, two volumes of mini-mysteries, a travel guide and some quiz books, not to mention a spin-off Roman Mystery Scrolls series, I thought it was time I moved to new historical pastures.
I wanted to know if the 'Iliad' in the original was as relevant and contemporary as it was in translation. I then started Latin. I had finally found something I enjoyed and was good at: dead languages!
When I was nine, we moved to Stanford University in San Francisco so that my father could do a Ph.D. I went to Terman Junior High in Palo Alto. It was terrible, because my hormones were all over the place, and I became an ugly adolescent full of rage and loathing.