While browsing the forums on the NaNo website, I came across this plan for a novel outline. For lack of a better plan (never having done this before), and appreciating excruciatingly detailed directions for things I am doing for the first time, I’ve begun working through the snowflake.
I find I don’t take the amount of time he recommends (an hour per step, at first; later a week) and I don’t keep going as fast as I maybe could (I’m sitting at #3 still for reasons I’ll say in a minute), but I’m enjoying it.
Outlines and guides and so on are all things I tend to see as tools, rather than anything set in stone.
For example, in step three, I’m supposed to do a type of detail/action-profile for my main characters. I did, and found it very helpful. Now I’m doing something like that for several more secondary characters. I like what I “found out” when I did it for the majors, and now I’m curious about the minors.