At critique group last week, we had a discussion about plotting. I like to think I have a very unique process, so I started expounding about it and its awesomeness.
At this point, Shallee stopped me. "Post about it for my blogfest!" she said.
And so I am.
My stories always start with an idea. For example, in my fiction class this semester, I want to explore the science behind astrology. I let the idea steep for a few days, and in the meantime, I go recruiting for characters.
Within a week, I'm ready to get started. I write the first chapter. Or two. Maybe three if I'm still not confident in my plot. And then I go backwards: I skip to the end. By this point, I usually have an idea how I want the story to end. Themes, characters, and settings are all accounted for; having their resolution already written helps me feel less overwhelmed by my projects.
From that point, I continue backwards, filling in scenes one by one until I've reached my original starting point. Most of my writing here is dialogue. This may sound funny, since my characters aren't solid at this point, but it helps me get a feel for their voices. (This is when I let them debate who will be my protagonist.) Only after I revise the story from beginning to end--completing a third draft--do I have a solid story.