Step One, for me, is Creating Characters. Setting and place is hazily there somewhere in the back of my mind and doesn't become clear until the plot is being developed.
Just a few minutes ago I put the final touches on my cast of characters for my new WIP and put them in the binder. Then I took each character's picture that I "googled" on the net, labeled them with their names and ages, printed them, and taped them to the white erase board on my wall. In the past I only listed this information in a marker so it would be a quick reference while working.This time I have photos to view. (see the reference to Susan Fields' blog in this post)
To my utter delight, these pictures are my characters. I no longer see them as actors and actresses.
I don't know if I will do this every time I start a new novel, but it sure has made these first tentative steps into a new genre a lot less scary and intimidating.
Tomorrow, Step Two: The Plot