I come up with a story concept first and I work out how it will end before I begin writing.

For example: PLOT: A cop's wife is found guilty of murder and going to be executed for the crime. The cop is willing to do anything to stop this, including framing an innocent man of the crime his wife is accused of. ENDING: Cop is arrested for framing man and loses his job. Wife is executed for the original crime. TWIST: The man the cop was framing really was guilty of the murder.

How do you prep for a story?

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I'm with you. I need to know the ending before I can start. I have to know where I'm going.
I'm pretty close. I don't HAVE to know the endng before I start, but in putting everything else together, the ending has usually come to me before I actually start to write. I keep promising myself and some friends I'll write the next project by the seat of my pants, but somewhere--riding in the car, doing yard work, falling asleep--the ending comes to me well before I get close to writing it.
I agree with your method. It is a brief thing to be sure, but I have to work out the basic plotline, how it will end and a hint of how to connect the two. Subplots, character details, all come once I begin writing it, but I always end up completing the project with my original idea. Writing with no idea where you're going or how you're going to get there is interesting too. I wrote a 50,000+ word crime fiction 'novel' on NaNo last November and it was fascinating to me how all the twists and turns just kept coming up out of nowhere. I plan to edit the thing this March for NaNoEdMo and try to market it somewhere. But, as fun as that was, I don't think I have the strength to do that on a regular basis! Joyce
Congratulations on writing 50,000+ words on NanNo! I tried it two years ago but gave up after a week - the stress level was too high.
I have worked from outlines and from a rough plot. It doesn't matter. When I get started, I make changes. When I make changes, it affects plot. And that frequently means waffling between likely villains. It also means a lot of tweaking after it's done.
It depends on the project.

Sometimes I make detailed notes on the setting, characters, plot, etc...

And sometimes I just have a rough idea and I charge in blind. Sometimes I start with an ending in mind, sometimes a new ending comes to me organically from the work, and sometimes I don't have an ending at all until I get their.

One time though, I did have an entire screenplay I had written to act as my outline. I had written it and decided that it would also work really well as a novel. So as for plot, that was the most I had outlined ahead of time.
Intriguing question. When I read it, the first thing that came to mind is that I prep by accumulating years of life experience. My two published novels grew out of my work in the mental health and home health care fields, and they explore issues I feel passionately about.

But now that I'm past that initial message-driven phase, I'm trying to approach my next project more systematically. It goes against the grain, though. I find outlining difficult; plot twists come to me during the writing process. I jump in by immersing myself in specific scenes and characters, and the work takes on momentum from there.
I have an idea, then I start writing. The ending usually doesn't come to me until about halfway through the draft. I don't outline.
The last story I wrote started out as an exercise in a critique group. I fleshed out a character who was trapped in a job she didn't want by circumstances she couldn't control. It started out as a list of bullet points and ended up as 225 pages.


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