This has been my in-between week. I finished a project last week, including revisions. I have three deadlines between now and November, but I've carefully charted each project on my handy calendar and am as confident as I can be that I can make all three deadlines. Which is good, because you really do need time between projects AND you (OK I) really need plotting time.
I've written a number of books, and plotted even more. For the first four or so, my process changed with each book. I thought I was incapable of having a process. Then I hit on one that seemed to work for me...for a FEW books. This is where I made a mistake. I tried to force myself to stick with that process because, "HEY, it worked before." Unfortunately, a book can not be forced. If you try to force a book or any element of a book (characters, romantic connection) it reads like that and I can feel it as I'm writing it. This makes me twitchy. It is way far from fun.
I have three projects to plot and I'm taking bits from the processes that worked before and mixing them into something new. So far its working for me.
I started with the characters, not just their goals, motivations and conflict, but their physical appearances. I did not, however, do the fill in the blank thing--this has never worked for me. Instead I trolled the Internet and found pictures. Then beside each I write the book title, the character's name and what they are (werewolf, vampire, Amazon queen). From there I open Word and just start typing.
I love this part--this is the story telling part. First I write a short blurb describing each of the main characters--like you might find on the back cover of a book. Then I move on to the actual book--a synopsis. I keep this like back cover copy in tone too, but longer and with an ending and plot twists.
I just tell the story, writing it down as I do. It is FUN. And by doing this I keep from slipping into the analytical part of my brain. I think that is why writers freeze while trying to write synopses. They move out of story-teller mode into business-writing mode. A synopsis is your story--just a boiled down version, don't get so caught up in the facts, let it flow. Then later when it is on the page you can do exactly what you do with your book...revise.
(FYI, the main difference between this process and my last version is that I was charting turning points before I started the writing. That's what began to feel forced. I have that form on my web site, if you are interested. It might work for you and even if you do the more story-teller oriented version of this, plugging those pieces in afterwards is a a great way to check and make sure you have them all there. Also the pictures. I used to do that, but then I let my A personality take over and I tried to rush things. To write a book you have to be relaxed. That's my new mantra. :) )