Everybody has their individual methods to write a novel (for the purposes of my query i mean something more substantial than a short story) but what generally are the methods that YOU use. I have always had the impression that (published/professional) authors get the idea for a story and pretty much sit down and start writing it from the first line until after a matter of months send off the manuscript and have it printed. I wish I had this ability. I have formulated a very technical method lately, which entails a long process of developing the bones of a plot in every direction that i feel it needs to go, making detailed notes on everything that comes to my mind, slowly building up the plan with meat. Usually many scenes had already been expanded upon in the earliest stages. Just so nothing is lost in the aeons of time each chapter has a contents of acts printed out, and each act has a contents of scenes, each scene has a detailed list containing vital ideas for me to include when I come to write it. The rule is as long as I include what is written in the contents within the scene I have free artistic rights to play around as much as i want. I love the first draft part. I also have discovered a curious phenomenon as I write, the story itself deepens and presents new twists and turns that work so well with the plot altogether. Upon completion of the first draft, the inevitable second draft and edit begin, though an editing occurs throughout the first draft process. This is where dialogue and style is tuned. Then upon a third draft I like to get an overview to tamper with pacing and to see if I have captured the general feel that I intended originally.