You're lucky if your ass-hairs are the only things getting singed.
Creating a clear plot led to DDR2, which was spectacular and riveting. You knew what she wanted, why she wanted it, why no one wanted her to have it, and what they were doing to stop it. Awesome, no? No. The plot was strong but the protag too strong. Sure she failed, but the consequences weren't proportional to the failure. They weren't even exaggerated. Level half the world and only get a slap on the wrist? Erm. No. That makes the book a Wall-Banger, the sort you fling across the room in a pique for wasting your time and emotional investment.
The only banging happening should be between the protag and her assorted lovers.
DDR 3 tried to change the inevitable disappointment, to make her transgressions less egregious and the consequences more heinous. It didn't work. The safety net of higher learning didn't allow her to risk enough or to be punished enough. It became a crutch, the Deus ex Machina of getting out of jail free.
And so, DDR 4 begins. To ensure I have a plot that supports the story, I'm starting with the 5,000 foot outline. Nothing too detailed, because I don't want to lose the fun of discovering the story as I write; however, knowing the Goals, Conflicts, Risks, and Rewards for each chapter should keep me on point. The world I knew will be tweaked, the politics more transparent. The individual quest will pushing the plot forward. Failures will result in tragedies. Success will be in perpetual conflict with the greater desire.
Hopefully, there will be no DDR 5.