After reading blogs etc where some writers talked about making copious notes, a detailed scenario and a chapter-by-chapter outline of their novel before they even started 'writing', I started to think I was doing it all wrong. Then I discovered that they were as many (if not more) writers who write as I do - start with a basic idea and develop it (and the characters) as they go along.
I've decided that I am somewhere in between a pantser and a plotter. I have a basic scenario, two main characters and a setting. My 'plotting' (if you can call it that) consists of hero and heroine meeting - or in some cases, meeting up again. Immediately there is some kind of 'issue' between them - one does something to upset the other, they disagree about something fundamental or they have a long-standing distrust of each because of something has happened in the past etc. The possibilities are endless. But there also has to be that attraction between them, although maybe they are fighting it (for whatever reason) or maybe something 'external' is keeping them apart.
After that I just throw conflicts and/or problems at them. I have some of these in mind when I first start thinking about the story, but others seem to develop out of nowhere as I write. Then, at some point, it has to seem that the conflict between them is resolved, since I hate stories where they fight non-stop until virtually the last page of the book and then fall into each other's arms. But as soon as it seems to be resolved, I throw something even bigger at them, and then pile on the pressure until it seems that there is no way that they can possibly get together.
Finally, and this can be the tricky part, I have to get them back together, but of course this has to be realistic, not contrived or coincidental. It also needs to be something that reveals how they have 'grown' - maybe learned more about themselves or about each other and their relationship.
These are the 'hooks' on which I hang my story, but my characters do have a tendency to 'do their own thing' at times. I love it when that happens because it's at that point I feel that they have really come alive for me.