I finished reading Write Away, Elizabeth George's take on novel writing. She writes mysteries and her approach is totally different than mine. I'm one of those people who writes and then sorts it all out later. But, being between projects at the moment, and seeing as how I wanted to try my hand at a kids book, I thought I'd try something totally different--you know, as an exercise.
One of the things George recommends before jumping into the novel writing is a character sketch...a heavily detailed character sketch. Her argument is that if you know who your characters are before you start, then the story will basically tell itself because "character is plot". So she says to sit down with your notebook and write out, in present tense, everything you know or think you know about your main character. When you're done, proceed with the secondary characters.
I did just this and wow! It was actually fun. I took the main character for my kid book and put him through his paces. When I finished, I knew his motivations and drives and his friends. Not only did I get enough for this first book in the series, I pretty much saw the whole series (six books in all) laid out in front of me. Who knew?
The only flaw: Generally I figure this stuff out as I go anyway, and I'm worried that the actual writing (when I get there) will feel less like I'm discovering something...seeing as how I did all the discovering pretty early on. Of course, the only way to know that is to do the writing...but I'm still working out the supporting cast...see my difficulty?
But, if you're feeling like you're stuck and you're a little more left-brained than me, then I would recommend this exercise. It is fun.