Once you get the idea for a story, the next thing you need to do is plan out the story.
In the writing world, there are two kinds of people. Or really, three: Plotters, Pantsers, and the In-Betweeners.
Plotters are people who write a thorough, detailed plot outline, complete with character profiles and information on worldbuilding. The details that go into their novels can fill an entire notebook. Pantsers are people who just take the ideas in their head and write out the story as they go, with only a vague idea about where the story is going. I consider myself an Inbetweener. A Plotter with Pants, so to speak. When I create my stories, I create a plot outline with the major events in mind, create character profiles, and research the worlds that my characters live in. However, once I have a basic outline, my characters, and an idea on where everything will take place, I write out all the major events and then fly by the seat of my pants trying to fill in the gaps in between.
Whether you’re a Plotter, Pantser, or an Inbetweener, research is an important part of the pre-writing process. Read books within your genre and look into the stuff that relates to the events and people in your story. Even if your novel takes place in high school, you will want to research potential places for your characters to hang out, the music your characters listen to, the kind of movies they like, etc. These details will enrich your story.
If you’re not sure how to organize all these details, I highly recommend that you read John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story. Even though the book is for screenwriters and movie makers, it gives you a lot of details about what makes a great story. Movies make for a great template because the best movies out there all tell unique, compelling stories.
So which kind of writer are you? Are you a Plotter? A Pantser? Or somewhere in between?