I have recently begun writing a new book. On Monday I bought a notebook, sat down with it on my lunch hour, opened the notebook to the first page and wrote "Chapter One" across the top and then began to scribble out the first scene. I like the first scene, and it leads nicely into the second scene, which I think will lead nicely into the third scene and on and on until I type "The End" at some point.*
As anyone who's followed my annoying rants about writing here or at the Literary Lab knows, I am a firm believer in outlining, in knowing the story before I get too much prose down on paper. And yes, sometime today I'm going to sit down and write out a list of necessary events and break that down into scenes and then also, I think, make a chart showing forces at work throughout the story.
One lesson I learned from my last book is that all of this, my lovely prose just written, my outline and my chart of forces, is all provisional. Especially for the first draft. I fully expect that this book will go through several major revisions, moving things around chronologically, adding events and characters and possibly subplots, cutting other events and characters and subplots, and that lots and lots of what I'm writing and satisfied with now is going to change or disappear. Which is something that I find to be, oddly enough, liberating. The urge to take chances and try risky things is much stronger when you know that nothing is set in stone, and I've given myself complete permission to have no clue at all what I think I'm doing, as long as I keep writing. Although, of course, my outline is still my guiding light during this draft. But how I get from "Chapter One" to "The End" is still pretty up in the air, and I hope to surprise myself often.
It cannot be stressed enough that I write primarily to amuse myself, and as long as I'm having fun, I consider the writing to be successful.
* Actually, I never type "the end" at the end of my stories or novels. I just stop writing.