I managed to complete most of my spring cleaning projects this week, and now should be able to get back to writing.
I'm working on step 5 (of 9) in the design process for EMPOWERED. I know it sounds like I'm fairly far along, but each step in the process takes longer than the last one. Typically, I have a tough time getting through step 7, although step 8 has never been as difficult for me as I know the actual writing will start soon after. I actually skip step 9, and use the book proposal as my final step.
For design work, I follow a method made popular by Randy Ingermansson called the Snowflake method. I purchased a software package from him a year ago called Snowflake Pro, although the method can easily be used without it. The concept is to develop both plot and characters in parallel from high level to details. In the end, you have a book proposal, in depth character profiles for the main and secondary characters, and a scene by scene flow for the plot. I do make some changes as I actually write the novel, but they are relatively small in the big scheme of things. The steps are as follows:
Step 1 -- a one sentence summary of the novel.
Step 2 -- a one paragraph summary in the form of an intro, three disasters and a resolution.
Step 3 -- define the main characters -- their goals, ambitions, and a summary of their story arc.
Step 4 -- a five paragraph summary of the plot.
Step 5 -- a detailed character synopsis, in free form. I like to write it in the character's voice as if they were talking about themselves.
Step 6 -- a full four page synposis of the plot, which covers each element of the action.
Step 7 -- character charts for all main and secondary characters giving details about their lives, likes and goals.
Step 8 -- Scene summaries, developed directly from the full synopsis.
Step 9 -- Scene notes (I normally skip this step) which allow the author to capture any particular scene elements already imagined.
Proposal -- Complete book proposal. This was much harder on the first novel, and easier on subsequent works as much of the material carries over.
For anyone interested in the Snowflake Method, which works great for me, but probably isn't every writer's cup of tea, just google Snowflake Method and link to Randy's Advanced Fiction Writing site.