Writing a plan allows me to think about the story without going into detail. I tend to jot things down. What I want to happen at the beginning of the novel, the middle and the end. I also work this way for each chapter. I am not saying this will work for others, but it works for me.
There are more than just the plot to think about. You need to think about your characters, who are they, what do they look like? I use visual aids too. I find them in magazines and the internet, these are for my eyes only. Where will the novel take place, and what places will they visit, what do they look like?
All these I find fun, places I may have visited some places. Others can be from my imagination. I know some authors use the real names of places in their books, an author friend of mine does. I on the other hand, have not in my current series. I created a whole town, map and all. It is the one I drew when I first wrote the book back when I was around fourteen years old. The ten thousand story, grew over the years to the hundred thousand it is today. I had to split it into two books as it was just to long. Book one is for sale on Amazon, and book 2, I am currently editing.
Not only do I use maps, and time tables as many of my characters are still in school. I google houses and if they have a floor plan I use that, again for my eyes only. Or if i cannot find one, I will use an image of the front of a house, and inside I will design it. Draw my own. I did once start cutting out clothes for my characters to wear, so I could see what was in their wardrobe. I think it was a lot to do, but I now just make a general list.
I created a character CV, where I list all the info on that person I need. And add a few questions which that character answers. I think it helps me get inside the characters head more.
If you have any tips you would like to share, feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you guys.