I used to come from the school of pantsing. Outlines gave me a migraine, and I always wrote by the seat of my pants. I'm a little sad to admit that I'm no longer a true pantser. Oh sure, I always do change things as I go along, but now, I have an outline system. It's kind of duplicative and crazy, but hey, it works for me.
Every idea starts off in my trusty writing notebook. I do a lot of things digital these days, but outlining is not one of them. I am a hardcore devotee of the college ruled notebook. I stock up every August when they're .20 a pop.
Each story starts out on my idea sheet, where I store my plot bunnies. Then if further ideas stike, I set out a section in my notebook, where I write down character sheets, a page for items I need to research, and lastly, I break down the plot into beginning, middle and end.
Once I've done that, I plug everything into Scrivener. Why not just do this process in Scrivener, you ask? Why do the same thing twice? Well, I would love to, but my brain just doesn't work like that. I work best with pen to paper when it comes to forming story ideas. I use these handy-dandy note cards in Scrivener, and they help me because I can label them with first drafts, to-do, revised draft, etc. So I know at a glance where the various parts of my novel are. I also like being able to look at what's going on where, and move things around as needed.
Before I start writing, I usually search for character inspiration. Not always, but I enjoy having character sketches in my project file.
Here you can see photos for my characters in my new novel Anna Begins. On the side is notes about the character. Names of their siblings, and other details that I might forget later on in writing. If I can't find a photo for the character that matches, I'll use a placeholder. I usually have photos for all the major characters.
Then I'll usually let everything sit for a week or two before I start writing, just in case final ideas come into place.
Do you outline? What's your method?