Almost all of this (for me, anyway) falls in the "composting" stage of things. At this point in the story writing process, I likely haven't written a word. Other than my blurby thing that is, where I wrote a couple rough paragraphs about my idea. The rest of this - thinking through how my main character will change, how my secondary characters will challenge her, where this book should take place - has simply been buzzing around my head. Maybe I've jotted a note or two and stuck it to my cork board, but by now I'm itching to write.
What I've found works best for me is to write the first three chapters before I do any other plotting.
Why the first three? I could spin some theories about how this gives me time to establish the major players, test out some flaws, and get inspired for some fabulous plot line I've yet to come up with. It also (usually) works out that three chapters is enough time to show us where the main character currently is and catapult him or her into what will be the meat of the story.
I could say all that - and there's truth to it - but the biggest reason I write three chapters is it's what publishers ask for when trying to determine if they want to buy a manuscript from me. Three chapters works well for my purposes; you'll have to find what works best for yours.
But you're not me. Maybe you have to plot it all out before you write a single word. For me, it's been disaster every time I've attempted to plot a book from "Once upon a time" to "Happily ever after."
The first three chapters help solidify everything in my mind. I get a feel for my main character and her voice. I discover fears I didn't know she had. I experience how she interacts with the people around her. I find the need for additional characters, additional plot points, additional flaws.
So if you don't really feel ready to plot out your book yet, try writing a couple chapters and delving deeper into your character's world before determining everything that will happen.
Next Monday there'll be a new writing prompt (click here for more info on writing prompt contests) and then we'll dive into how to write a killer first chapter.
Have a great weekend everybody!