My last post got me thinking about different ways to begin a project. When I’m advising new writers on how to begin a memoir, I tell them to think of an event and just sit down and write it as a scene (or in essay form if they aren’t ready yet to write scenes). Then do another and another and soon you’ll have some material to work with BEFORE worrying about an outline. Now that I’ve completed one book, however, I plan to use a different process next time. I plan to really work out the plot and outline BEFORE I write any scenes. Because what happens when you write the scenes first is you fall in love with some of them and try to work the plot around those scenes in order to keep them rather than working the scenes around the outline of the story. Which makes for a crappy plot and a lot of heartbreak once you realize, after multiple revisions, that you need to scrap those scenes and start over.
What about you? What is your process for starting a new project? Where do you begin?