Here’s how the creative process usually hits me:
This appears as a scene in my imagination and can be influenced by a location, an event, the quality of light, a time of day, a situation or a snippet of overheard conversation.
Based on the scene of the Idea stage, this appears very quickly when it happens, in a couple of paragraphs of questions which I start to answer and then analyse with a process similar to an Ishikawa diagram.
This is usually helped by a long train ride, or an hour in a quiet coffee house by myself.
At times it’s speeded up by the type of music I choose to listen to – I find that certain tracks make plotting fly along, while others are better for the noodling contemplation of stage one (Idea).
Where I break the plot down into scenes, as if it were a film or a comic book or chapters.
At this point I’m free to play with the structure so that when I see where one event has to happen before another, I can shuffle it about.
There’s usually some character development in here too. New characters who tell part of the story, or provide a different Point Of View. (I’ll post about my storyboarding technique another time.)
Throw words at the storyboard.
Attack it in chunks and just get scenes down on paper (or in Scrivener these days).
Find out that some characters have a mind of their own and go off to do things you never told them about.
Have new characters appear, some of them gits who nonetheless help the story along.
Grit teeth and continue until planned word count is achieved.
Look at the structure again.
See where scenes need to be shuffled about in order to make better sense in the overall storyline.
Add linking sections and smooth transitions between scenes so that it reads more like a story and less like a bunch of chunks stuck together with Blu-tack.
Character definitions, descriptions and development. Do they behave like they were designed to do?
Has anything changed since I started to write them which might make them more memorable or distinctive, like a regional accent or the way they walk?
Can I bump off the gits?
Where will they be at the end of the story, and do I need them to be in another place for the start of the next story in the series?
Clear up all that went before until I’m fed up with the sight of the thing.
Throw it at my beta readers in resignation (“that’s as good as I can make it for now, folks!”) and wait for feedback while I get on with another, better story…