Q: What's your first step in writing?
A: I love to plan everything out in layers. I start by writing a vague summary and continue building the world....
After writing a vague summary on paper, I get right to planning. At this point, I'm still handwriting. I break down the summary into three parts: the beginning (warming readers up to the plot/ issues in the story), the middle (shit starts happening), and the end (uh-oh who is dying first).
After making my outline, I decide on the where. Where is my story taking place and where do the characters need to go. I am horrifically awful at directions. Some would even call it map-illiterate. My sense of direction is so bad that 23-and-me even predicted it in my >2% neanderthal genes. Due to this lack of skill, I have to make maps. I use Inkarnate to create maps of the countries and places that my characters need to go to. Inkarnate is a great tool for world building but it spares me the agony of having to go back and edit my lack of proper directions later.
Once I have a physical map, I can make a mental map for the story. I'm a spreadsheet junkie. Microsoft Excel and Google Spreadsheet are my heroes. I plot all the tiny details in spreadsheets. Each chapter is given a brief description and broken up into parts. I also use spreadsheets to track character information. I keep these tabs open while I'm writing to check for accuracy.
How do you like to organize the first steps of your writing process?