I recently re-read The Little House in the Big Woods. I love Laura as a character, but I was struck by how plotless the book is. It has a structure--that of the year. And it has a sort of Robinson Crusoe charm, as we learn how to do everything from skinning a pig to making maple sugar. But what about plot? How important is plot in a book for grade-school age children?A plot is a good idea.
Is it possible to create a charming and readable book without a plot? Yes, if you're talented enough. Is it possible to create a charming and readable book without a plot and in which practically nothing happens? Ditto.
a. Let's remember that we're talking about Advanced Writing here, so please please PLEASE do not assume you can write your very first book without a plot or occurrences of any kind. Probably not your second, either. And maybe none of them.
If you construct a car, people are going to expect to see it go someplace. If you create one of the most fascinating and beautiful cars ever, then maybe people won't mind if you don't create it with an engine and they can only watch it sitting there for 300 pages.
b. When you decide to think about other books in comparison to the book you are trying to sell DON'T COMPARE IT TO BOOKS THAT WERE PUBLISHED MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS AGO PLEASE YOU ARE KILLING ME. Such decades-old books are still selling partially because of their writing... and partially because they're old and "classic" and adults (aka 'people with money to spend') remember them fondly from their own childhoods. Not because people would necessarily choose them over new books if those classics were new themselves.*
*please note I have nothing against the Little House books and reader outrage and/or allegations of slander are unnecessary. Certain other "classics", however...