I am very curious about how many of you choose to develop your stories. I have heard of people starting with theme, developing a plot, breaking it into characters that reflect plot movement, creating chapters and filling in the blanks. My Method: (Feel free to comment, but this is how my brain works.) I tend to think about things I enjoy reading about or imagining. I will have thousands of tiny cool clips of scenes, actions, or images, dancing around in my head, that I feel are worthy to one day share with people. Suddenly, one of those images will jump to the front and yells, "O-Oh, choose me!" From that point, I start thinking about what would revolve around that circumstance occurring. The how, why, or what, that would make that situation as meaningful as I feel it was in my head. Generally that get's me a basic 2-D plot. I create a bunch of one to three line paragraphs that describe a key factor in the story, leading or surrounding the event. Usually, those key factors start to manipulate the whole story or they cry for situations and plot elements that feed their own needs. By this point, a theme has usually popped out at me. Sometimes it is more than one theme. But, I try to spend a day or two picking out the most powerful universal theme and think about how I can make it a consistent part of every aspect of the story. Next, I flush out the three paragraph lines, giving it detail and thematic meaning until I feel that each section contains its own arching tension and climax. I follow this up by sectioning them into 30 chapters, give or take, and use title to reflect the theme, feel and happenings of the paragraph. I take a break from the story and take the 2-D character's I have and write a tons of information about them. Traits, history, emotions and shortcomings are just some idea of what I go into. Once I feel they are 3-D, to me, I place them back into those 30 sections. I let them loose and they usually make problems, create a ruckus, and manipulate the story or change the plot, suiting their needs. I go back one last time to each of the 30 sections and following the characters, trying to keep with the key plot points. I write a page or so of dry, a-matter-of-fact, and quick, story plots and elements. Occasionally I will write important dialogue too. Finally, If you have ever told yourself, I could have written this better or I could have made a better movie, you have the best tool you could ever have. A free, usable, outline of a plot and story, that is ripe for the picking and you can copy and manipulate as much as you like to create your novel. Last note: Once the first draft is done, I repeat the process for each revision. Starting from theme and listing out the chapters and key plot points. You spent about 400 pages getting to know characters and feeling dead points in your plot or realizing amazing twists that might need to be interlaced subtly into the story. This is the most fun part for me!