Pretty much the same as all above - start with a what if..? sentence and start writing. Never write down a plot line. Did it once because an agency wanted an outline of what the second book in a series would be. They then asked me to write it and after sticking to the outline for 100 pages tossed it, far too restrictive. Have never written an outline since.
I mostly work from a light skeleton, just a line or two for each chapter and follow through on that, but I always find that new ideas spring up while I tap away at the keys.
These all get written down in a notebook to be saved for the next few days or as a plot line for a future novel. The notebook may be an archaic item, but it fits in the pocket so easily and is very handy to lug just about anywhere.
I attended a workshop once and the speaker INSISTED that you could not write a novel without an outline. I agonized over this for months, tried and tried, wrote and rewrote and finally decided that it wasn't going to happen that way for me!
I finally reasoned that life for me isn't like that, you can't plan what is going to happen the next day (what's that they say about the best laid plans?). For me the story happens. and like another here stated, I can't wait to get back to the desk to see what happens next.
I prefer to sit in front of the computer and let the words flow.
You can waste time plotting and planning, but that's time better spent typing your next book.
I often have ideas in the middle of the night/in the shower/driving/buying groceries which I scribble down on paper.
In my latest book, Dave Cooper: On The Edge Of London, the book came about as a result of past experiences and people who I know. In such cases, the words come a lot easier than when starting from scratch.
When I get a story idea in my head, the only way to get it out is to write it down. Otherwise, it will hound me for months--maybe even years.<
I gotta tell you, that's so true about an idea in the head that won't go away until you write it down. Sometimes my life is busy and I'll go a week or so without moving a chapter along, and I'm so relieved to write it out because my brain can go on an imagine something else.
On the other hand, I'll often finish a scene and then have to go lie on the bed and imagine the next part, like watching a movie. I suppose Stephen King can have these scenes just pour out of his head, but I need to set the stage in my mind first.
People sometimes ask, how do you get your ideas? My response is, they bubble up and then they won't go away. Shoo. Shoo.
[i]I attended a workshop once and the speaker INSISTED that you could not write a novel without an outline. I agonized over this for months, tried and tried, wrote and rewrote and finally decided that it wasn't going to happen that way for me![/i]
In addition to not wanting an outline, I've discovered that I can't tell my wife about my book as I write it. I can't tell her what's going to happen. She reviews each chapter once it's written for grammar, sense, consistency, typos, etc. But I cannot, I must not, tell her where it's headed. Otherwise I've locked myself in, and the creativity stops.
I write what I see in my mind. When I'm writing I don't feel like I have to "think" about what's going to happen. Instead, it's like I see it, and just put it down on paper (or in my computer rather). Like I'm telling a story that's already happened. So no, I don't typically write outlines. One time I did write out notes was because there were multiple characters and time and ages of those characters was a major point in the plot. So I wrote down when people were born, died, and how old they'd be. And I wrote a VERY light concept on paper so I'd keep things in order.
The first thing I do is to think of a major goal to be carried out by a major character. That’s the basis for all stories. The book needs to be about someone trying to achieve something whether it’s to steal a an armored car, rescue the princess from a sorcerer’s tower, or figure out a way to stop antimatter from leaking in from a parallel universe.
Then I think of a secondary goal for a secondary character because most good stories have a good subtext.
Once you have these things down, this will also give you a fairly good idea of how your story is both going to begin and end. What comes in betwixt can be done off the cuff.
I'll write down ideas and and if they don't fit one book as it progresses I save it for another. One plot don't always fit as I go along, and may need a kick befor I get done with a book. But an idea get's a note wrote down so I don't foreget it. I am writing a book where I need an history timeline so that I need research and notes so I don't have to look them up again. Now where did I put those notes?
I was a Panster, but not anymore. Agent Michael V. Carlyle, who represents author Robert Harris, read a manuscript of mine and said, "You're a good writer, but you lost track of the plot after the first four chapters."
Those are pretty crushing words to hear when you're a crime novelist, yet he was one hundred percent correct.
Since then, I've outlined. What surprises me is that I actually enjoy the process, and it makes it easier for me overall.
However, I leave some room for spontaneity. Outlines are a map, and you know your destination, but that doesn't mean you can't stop through a restaurant or see a national monument every now and then when you feel like it, long as it doesn't waste too much time or gas.