Before typing the first word of my latest middle grade WIP, I decided to write out a scene list. I call it a set list (click to enlarge) because it reminds me of song titles that a band might jot down before a concert.
It's a list of words that represent initial ideas or big scenes. These words could later lead to other ideas and other smaller scenes and could even work as chapter titles (if you're in to using chapter titles). Nothing here is concrete. In fact, I'll rewrite this set list many times before and during the first draft. For me, it works. The list keeps me focused on the narrative's plot points without painting myself into a corner or forcing my characters into scenes that don't belong or make sense. It also makes me feel good about having something down on paper. A story map of sorts.