This method has worked for me in developing my novels.
Must Haves: a notebook/journal or computer, index cards, and external drive
Recommended: a voice recorder, large plastic box or binder
Ideas for Titles
List at least 5 titles that you really like and beside each title add a sentence or two behind the meaning of each.
Ideas for Story Line
Create several 1 sentence goals for your book. They should include issues that you want to address in the story.
Decide what type of book it will be: romance, mystery, horror, etc._________
Decide on the time frame for your story. Will it be historical or modern?______________
Description of location_____________
This is the hard but fun part. Creating characters requires a lot of time, but you can start with deciding approximately how many characters you want in your story._________
Names in progress:
Character Descriptions and Attributes:
In relationship to your story line decide on major plot and subplots.
What is the main crisis your main character has to face?______________________________
How does this crisis affect your main character?_______________________________
What is the relationship between the main and minor characters regarding this crisis?________________________
How is the crisis resolved?_________
What is the subplot linked to your main plot?_________________________
Most writers will always do a little research to help their book along. If your story takes place in Kentucky 1929, then you might research that time period for authenticity. Otherwise, you have to decide early on how much of the facts you plan to make up yourself.
Diagrams, Collages, and Outline Sketches
These may or may not work for you. But charting a diagram on an index card or page in your journal starts the rough drafting process.
A collage might include clippings, articles, pictures, and other physical items to help put your book together.
A diagram could include a family tree to show how your characters are related.
An outline is a result of your journal entries so that you can see the direction of where your book is going.
The Writing Process
You've done the hard work to get started, so now you need to start the rough draft! The first paragraph is usually the hardest, so I usually skip it. I start with the first issue I want to address and go from there.
Make Time to Write
Try to set a schedule for yourself so that you have a fixed time to work. 15-30 minutes a day is usually enough time to get things done when you're pressed for time.
Phones and Voice Recorders:
If you can't set aside the time to write, grab a voice recorder or use your cell phone to record ideas on the go. That way you can jot it all down later when you have a quiet moment to think.
Send yourself notes to add to your journal later.
Try using index cards to write out dialogue or action scenes that may or may not make the rough draft. Also add more ideas to develop your characters for future reference.
Make a list of names you like, or a list of ideas for characters that you might add later on.
There is a lot of writing software out there to use. I use everything but Microsoft Word.
I like Page Four, Open Office Writer, Focus Writer, and Rough Draft which are free to download.
Folder or Box:
Depending on how much information you've accumulated you can use a folder, box, or binder to add all of your research, clippings, pictures, notes, diagrams, maps, journals, etc. to have in one easy to find place.
What to do when the novel is done
If you have written the whole novel in journals (as I so often do) you need to type up the draft on a computer and save it on an external drive. I recommend using two different drives that are password protected so that you have one on you at all times, and one you leave in a safe place.
Print out the entire draft so that you can edit for punctuation, style, and grammar. Mark up the entire manuscript with notes if you have to, or stick post-it notes on the pages notating changes to be made.
Then you need to edit for content and clarity. Find scenes and characters that are irrelevant and start cutting them.
Self copyright your work by mailing yourself a complete copy of the draft.
If you're ready to share your masterpiece with others, post your draft on the Forum boards for feedback from your peers.
Then start working on that next draft!