There are hands that come along that you can play without making a plan. Of course you really do have a plan, it's just a very simple one - such as:

 Take your nine high card winners immediately 

More often your plan will be more complicated than that.
Here is the procedure for making your plan of attack.

There are two different approaches to counting your tricks. You can count your winners, or you can count your losers. Of course in the end both approaches have to give the same result, but it is a bit easier if you use the winner count for notrump contracts and the loser count for suit contracts.

Suppose you are playing a notrump contract and your winner count is insufficient.
You need to find a way to create some more winners.
Basically there are just two ways to create winners:

Here is an example plan for a notrump contract.
You are South, playing 3NT. West leads the ♣J.

  ♠ K 3
A 10 5 3
Q J 10 9 3
♣ 7 5
  This is a notrump contract so count your winners:
Winners: ♠ : 2     : 1     : 0    ♣ : 3
Notice that you count only immediate winners.
You have 6 winners so you need to create 3 more.
Obviously there is no way to make any extra winners in the black suits so the three additional tricks must come from the red suits.

Dummy's s are beautiful and you can establish 3 additional winners in s just by forcing out the Ace and the King. And, (very importantly), you can set up your s before the defense can set up either black suit. So your plan is to win the first trick and immediately start playing s. When the defense wins the first trick, if they switch to ♠s, win in either hand, then continue leading s. You will win 3 tricks, 5 tricks in the black suits and the A.
♠ A 2
Q J 9
8 7 6 4 2
♣ A K Q

Here is another example plan for a notrump contract.
You are South, playing 3NT. West leads the ♠Q.

  ♠ K 3
A 10 5 3
Q J 10 9 3
♣ 7 5
  If these hands look familiar to you, good! They are the same hands you just looked at above. The only difference is the opening lead. But what a difference.

There are still the same 6 winners so you need to create 3 more.
And these 3 winners still have to be found in the red suits.

This time though, if you try to establish the 3 additional winners in s, you will go down. When the defense wins their first high they will drive out your last ♠ stopper. And when they win their second high they will be able to cash at least 3 ♠ tricks. Since this plan cannot possibly succeed you abandon it. Now you look at the suit. Can you create 3 extra tricks in s? Maybe and maybe not. It depends on who holds the K. If West holds it you can finesse him out of it. So your plan is to win the first trick in your hand with the ♠A and immediately lead the Q, letting it ride if West doesn't cover.

Notice that this plan has about a 50% chance of succeeding. That isn't great but it is much better than the 0% chance you would have if you tried to establish the s.
♠ A 2
Q J 9
8 7 6 4 2
♣ A K Q

Making a plan for a suit contract is similar, but instead of trying to create winners you think about eliminating losers.
There are three basic ways to eliminate losers in a suit contract. Here is an example of a suit contract plan.
You are South, playing 4♠. West leads the ♠10.

  ♠ 7 6 3
9 4
A K 8 3
♣ 8 6 5 2
  This is a suit contract so count losers in your own hand:
Losers: ♠ : 1 (with a 3-2 split)     : 2     : 0    ♣ : 1.
Don't count the two small s since they are obviously covered by Dummy.
You have 4 losers so you must find a way to eliminate one of them.

Of the three ways to eliminate losers there are no finesses available in this hand so that leaves ruffing or discarding.

One possibility would be to play trumps, then lead 3 rounds of ♣s. If the ♣ suit splits 3-3 a loser could be discarded on Dummy's fourth ♣.

A much better plan would be to ruff a in Dummy.
You will win the first ♠ and immediately play Ace and another .
The defenders will probably play another trump, but you will win that one also and then play your last , ruffing it in Dummy. After that you just play your Minor suit winners, letting the Defense win their high trump whenever they like. You make 10 tricks.
♠ A K 5 4 2
A 8 6
4 2
♣ A K 4

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