Where is the story going to take place is next on my agenda. A setting, using a place I’m intimately familiar with, such as in Cornered, the story is set in the same city where I worked as a detective.
After I know what it’s about and where it’s happening, it’s time to figure out who the cast of characters will be. Everything about them is put down on paper: names, life experiences, emotional and historical baggage, goals, physical appearance, likes and dislikes, and family.
What I like to do next is draft mini-stories of major scenes — the disasters and pitfalls facing my protagonist, what he/she is striving for, and the successes for my antagonist. The last step is crafting an ending so I know where it’s all going.