Every author has his/her process. I've spoken to some authors who outline their stories. They did a "cast" list and figure out each character's role. They try to identify their characters' arcs and development. Other writers do index cards, which in some ways is kind of old fashioned, don't you think? We're in the digital era, but for these writers that makes sense. I actually don't question the process, because it's different for everyone. If you're a new writer and want some great advice on getting started, here are some fabulous ideas:
Non-fiction and the Table of Contents -- I always recommend that authors whether they are new to their crafts or old dogs should start non-fiction books with a well-thought-out table of contents. The table of contents becomes your roadmap and guide for how you will organizationally write the book. I encourage new writers to have an outside person review their table of contents. You will notice that all books have a sequential flow. A poorly organized table of contents will reveal a book that could end up organizationally dysfunctional and not making sense. 3L Publishing will gladly do a quick consult on your table of contents. It's one of the ways we know if a book frankly is going to make sense.
Fiction and Synopsis or story summary -- I always tell authors that if they can't nail what their books' themes are in 200 words or less then go back to the drawing board. Your main plot is the most important, and you should be able to effectively articulate that really in less than a paragraph. If you say, "I don't know how" or "I don't know," you need to hire 3L to consult, guide and coach your project before you simply waste your time on it.
Subplots and character -- You should try and describe those subplots and its connection to the main plot before you get too deep into the writing. Make that cast list and describe each person both physically and emotionally. Again, some authors still like to make cards or place stickies on their walls or bulletin boards, which is a good way to remind yourself Bob is a blond and not a brunette; his eyes are blue not brown.
Now I've just given you all of this advice, but here is the real truth. My process is completely different. I just sit down and start telling my story. I don't map or write out who's who. When I wrote books one and two of the California Girl Chronicles, I just let Brea's story and mischief flow out of me. It took roughly six weeks to write each book that way. So, I'm not going to preach to anyone's process, because I ultimately believe we all have our own creative tools in our heads and ways to do things; but if you're stuck, these suggestions will pull you out. California Girl Chronicles is available on Amazon in print, Kindle, iBook and Nook. It can also be found in select bookstores.