Over the years I have tried several different methods for planning a story, of any length. Admittedly I tend to plan novel length stories, none of which have moved much past the 10,000 word mark. I have tried writing with no planning done as well, also known as ‘pantsing’. None have really worked for me so far, but they work quite well for others, the trick is to try many before deciding which one works best with your muse.
I have tried the folder method, the post card method and the ‘write random bits and pieces in a notebook until something makes sense’ method. I have also tried creating several documents in Word and Scrivener to take notes and answer pre-set questions about characters and places.
Currently what works best is a combination of the folder and post card methods. I have a folder full of character questionnaires and notes on places, but for the plot I use post cards, each with notes of a particular scene. Once I have finished writing out all of my scenes I will rearrange them into the correct order and then divide them into chapters. This method allows me to write about whichever part of the story I want to at the time, rather than getting stuck with one particular scene and not being able to move past it for weeks at a time. So far using this method I have nearly 20 scenes from different parts of my story, all written in the space of 48 hours (keep in mind I work full-time as well). Admittedly I may not end up using them all but it is a good way to keep the planning process moving.
Honestly this method may not stay as my favourite, I may not find the ultimate planning method for years to come. But for now I am happy. All I know for certain right now is that I am not a pantser, I have tried it and failed miserably!
If you want to read more about different planning methods there is information online about them, but I would recommend reading Wannabe a Writer? by Jane Wenham-Jones, and excellent and inspiring read.