So now you have an idea for a story. You know who the characters are and the a very high-level premise of what will happen to them. Time to go down a level.
Next step is to create an outline. This takes the idea for your novel and refines it. It is not super detailed, but starts to give shape to the story.
High-Level Idea: An off-duty cop visits his estranged wife and ends up fighting terrorists (yep, Die Hard).
- Christmas party at wife's prestigious downtown building.
- Terrorists attack (want the money in the vault)
- Husband arrives but doesn't know what is happening until he hears gunshots
- Contacts a policeman outside the building
- Fights his way up the building
- Comes across bad guy but doesn't know it (bad guy pretends to be a guest of the party)
- Police show up but can't get in the building
- Vault breached
- Hero stops the bad guys from escaping
Above is a very basic outline. There are many things that need to 'fleshed out', but the shape of the story starts to come into focus. Often times I will have more than one outline - a very basic one, and one that is a bit more detailed. Sort of the evolution of the story.
Now you have your idea, your notes, your outline - ready to write??? Well, not yet, still one more step that I would recommend.