I used to run a writers workshop at science fiction conventions. It was very simple. I told those who attended to write the first hundred words of a short story. I gave them ten minutes, then I asked each in turn to read their exercise aloud. I and my panel would comment, trying to help them understand what they had done well, and where they could improve.
We could not comment on one person’s exercise, because it wasn’t the first try at a narrative hook, it was just notes. I thanked the writer, then told the class that this was really the way to start working on a story, with ideas. They may be for a possible start, or for what an ending might be about, or about characters, setting, situation, obstacles and conflicts, or anything else which came to mind. I don’t have trouble remembering what the over-all story is about, but I find that notes about details like these, and other plot elements, are essential.
Story Eight for Star Kings is what I’m beginning to work on now. What I have done is to let my imagination (muse, if you will) run free, and to write down, in longhand, whatever comes to mind. These ideas may not be in order, I may not know who does what, or who is speaking, or what the setting looks like. I may throw some of these away. I may add some. But that’s okay. I have what I need.
Next I will take these ideas and develop them, turn bare notes and rough ketches into narrative, dialogue, description, and a coherent plot. Once I have a very rough draft, I’ll know a lot better what to do next. After all, I write organically, not by design. Most of the time.
If you prefer to create an outline, then that is what you do. This is what works for me.