Last night I began outlinning book two of THE ALICE CHRONICLES called FAMILY TIES. At first I just stated at a white screen and wondered what to do next. I then decided to follow what I did with book one and see what follows through. Here is what I did and plan on doing to begin the next installment.
First I wrote out the objectives. The things that I wanted to accomplish in this book. These will be the sub-plots that move along with the story. The problem I faced was looking for the catalyst. What is going to raise the stakes enough to warrant the book. For this I looked to my idea that I had planned for book three. It clicked. Everything fell into place in my mind and I know it'll work. Leaves me a little dry for the catalyst in book three, but its too early to worry about that one.
As I have mentioned in the past, my problem over the years was coming up with an end of a story. It was what allowed me to do RABBIT SLAYER. I knew the beginning, the middle, and the end before I started. So for FAMILY TIES I have done the same. I wrote out the beginning, the middle, and then the end (well sort of). It is like writing a query at this point - more of a note to myself of what will happen in each section.
Once I completed that I began writing a chapter by chapter outline. My outline is more like a guidline to the chapter. For example "Chapter 1: Emily wakes up in Alice's apartment with a splitting headache. Emily will attempt to leave, but is stopped by Alice..." and so on. Nothing really formal, again just notes for me to at least get a feel for what will happen in the book. No real details unless there are specific imagery I want to put there. Last night I got as far a chapter 4. That's kind of where things started to get complicated and will need more thought.
Now when I am done with my outline I do not for a second believe that the ending book will flow exactly the way I wrote in the outline. I am not so rigid that I don't allow the story to take over. I know that when I wrote RABBIT SLAYER the sotry flowed down paths I hadn't considered. That is the beauty of wiriting allowing the story to write itself. So I have to go back and modify the outline to allow for the new twists. The end result remains mostly the same.
So this is my method. An outliner that gravitates to organic when in the flow. What are the methods you use for starting a new book?