A year or so ago, I would have proudly told you that I don't outline, that I'm what they call a "Seat of the pants writer," or a "pantser." Typically writers are either pantsers or plotters, but more and more I find people who fit into both categories. Which is where I am now. (A plantser?)
Here's what my writing process is now:
1. I have an idea that I'm pretty sure will support a novel.
2. As soon as the perfect first line/opening scene hits me, I write the first three chapters. These first three are a very exploratory time. Sometimes I drop in lines that foreshadow things I'm still feeling pretty fuzzy on. If a character wants to say something totally random and borderline stupid, I let them. This is my time to get a handle on who these people are and what kind of potential they've got.
3. When I finish the first three chapters, I write my synopsis. (A one- to two-page summary of my book with all the important details. For more information on this, click here.)
4. I write the rest of the book, referring back to my synopsis on occasion.
The first time I did this, it was because I had to. My agent wanted a book proposal, which is the first three chapters and a synopsis. I grumbled the whole time I was writing my synopsis and vowed that as soon as I became the next Stephenie Meyer, I was totally going to return to my way of doing things.
Then about 75% of the way through my book, I got seriously sick. I actually fainted one morning and had to be rushed to the ER, which lead to taking a week off writing and got me seriously out of my groove. When I returned to work and my characters and plot felt like strangers, it was so nice to be able to read my synopsis and get back in the swing of things.
So that's my process for now. I'm always trying new systems/ideas I hear from other writers, seeing if anything else sticks.
I'm curious to know others' answers to this question. What have you found works for you? Do you tend to be more of a pantser or a plotter?