Most of my projects are planned out, just because most of them end up in the "To work on" file on my laptop. There's only one project I'm writing that isn't planned out, but that's because it seems to work the best for the story.
Otherwise, I plan out the character, plot, and chapter events.
What do I do for characters? I write down their full name. Then the age. Then appearance. And finally a summary of their life. The latter generally helps plan out the story, which is why I plan out the characters first.
Here's an example:
- Everette 'Ever'
- Light brunette, pale green eyes due to experiments, pale skin, 5'2",
- Summary of life
- Ever lived with her parents until she was 10, which was when Mr. Richards came to her family, offering her a better education. Her family thought this would be a good idea, even though Ever didn't like it, and she went to the lab. After two weeks, Mr. Richards lied to her parents and ...
That's just an brief example. Just getting the first two things also help so you know the general age and what they look like so Suzy don't have brown hair in the first paragraph and blond hair in the third paragraph in the next chapter.
This one is basically: write a paragraph for the plot, or do a detailed gazillion pages that describe every major event along with back story and other things. I do both. The first is what I do (with pitches instead of a paragraph), while the other ends up being over a thousand pages due to the back story and major events detailed, and a little summary of the beginning of the story.
There are also ways that include a very detailed paragraph-by-paragraph thing. I have never attempted this one, due to the fact that it takes a long time and can get really boring.
Instead of a plot paragraph-type thing, this can be used to replace it. It's just brief notes on every chapter, from 4 (for me) to 8 lines. Real easy.
- wakes up to music
- gets ready for school
- brief chat with mom
- almost late to school
- takes test in English
- ditches after class and hangs out with friends a beach
Pretty silly example (in my opinion), but it gives you the gist of what to do.
I hope this helps those of you who don't really know what to do when it comes to planning!