That may work for some kinds of stories, but lately I am increasingly inclined to rely on at least a general outline.
My drafting process has evolved to something like this:
- Idea (often from a dream).
- Let the idea simmer for a few weeks or months (the stronger and more urgent the idea the shorter the "fallow" time will be)
- Write a tentative first chapter. For that, I use no outline or advance planning. I simply let the story go, in order to get to know who the protagonist is and what POV may be appropriate.
- Map out a general outline for the story with a beginning, middle, and end, and perhaps the main sub-plot included. Ending can be sketchy, but at least I have a general idea of where the story is headed.
- Review the outline and refine the first chapter.
- Write a intro paragraphs for the significant events and map out sketchy bios for the main characters with a little back story and their agendas.
- Start writing the first draft.
When I finish the draft, I let it sit for a while -- weeks or perhaps even months -- before I start editing.
Tips? Suggestions? Comments?