Theme and Strategy.
The author, Ronald Tobias, states: "The secret in writing isn't simply knowing what ingredients go into its making, but in knowing how to make those ingredients work together."
How much characterization is too much for your plot? How much action is too much? Too little?
He makes a good point when he says: "When you hear someone say, 'He'd never do that,' or 'That would never happen,' what that person is really saying is: You've disturbed the fiction by violating he patterns of character and plot."
Not that you need pages and pages of notes before you start. But, you should "design an overall strategy that allows you to be open-minded enough to allow the hidden to emerge on its own, unhampered by your ideas of what ought to happen."
So what should writers do?
1) Start with a beginning. Not THE beginning, but A beginning. It's where the story should start.
2) Pick an ending.
3) Set short-term objectives. Dramatic structure is usually made up of connected series of mini-stories. Maybe, before you write a chapter, decide what your objective is for it.
4) Develop a working strategy. Don't decide on a strategy for a chapter before you've written the chapter before it. You may adapt or change your story while writing and need to readjust.
5) Don't ever look back. The temptation to go back is sometimes very strong and you must resist it. Use the force, Luke, use the force! Don't waste precious time writing the beginning to perfection because, first, you'll never get there and second, if your strategy changes along the way, you may have to readjust the beginning in the second draft. Keep a notebook for things you may want to change in edits, but don't go back.