People write in very different ways. Some people plan their pieces to perfection and then start writing. Others (such as myself) tend to just plan as they go.
I start out with a sentence, which then leads onto something else, which then creates a setting, a character, a purpose, a plot. However, I have to start writing a 7,500 word piece which is due for publication at the end of the year, and I'm supposed to be meticulously planning it out as I go so my progress can be recorded.
As a result, I was wondering how you all plan your pieces out. Do you write up a point-by-point outline of what is going to happen? How do you plan your characters? Do you write out a whole background for a character and then write them into your story?
I plan broad and then get detailed. So first I'll start with some genreal plot structure like the hero's journey and the three act structure and line up my major plot points with these. Then I work out how many chapters I want if writing a novel length or how many scenes I want if writing a shorter work for each part. Then I write down some more specific plot points. Then I get index cards and write each scene on a card. Sometimes these can be really specific and sometimes several cards are needed to make up a full scene. I don't move the order around too much but I have the option if I wish. I can also insert new points or remove them easily. It also makes my chapter breaks easy to move around. Recently I have then been inserting this info into scrivener which is awesome, and then I can write any part of my story at any time. It means I don't get writer's block because I don't get stuck on bits, I can just write another bit. This said I still tend to write in a semi-linear fashion. It also means if I get to the end and there are scenes I haven't written I can really look at why not, if they are boring to me to write they might be boring to the reader too!
I used to write up really detailed character and world building sheets, especially for fantasy. I don't any more as I find that level of detail is often not needed and I LOVE doing it which means I waste my time not writing. I do have a file where I can jot down information as needed so I don't forget if Alex's sister spells her nickname Jaydee or Jaycee and so on. I still read through character creation questions and think about what the answers might be but I find I don't have to put m work into making up characters or places or plots, they come to me, I think about them a bit then put them into the back of my mind for my subconscious to work on. I re-visit them at a later date and find them relatively complete.
I don't plan because, in my experience, I can't. I write whatever comes to my mind. I do plan broad plots for later portions of my stories (as an example, I have three planned for my current story), but that's about as far as I go. I would like to plan out a story and stick to it at some point, though.