As a new novelist, I had read a great deal about structure, outlining, plotting, subplots, and characterization. I have character sheets on each one of my recurring characters, and I always create new ones when I introduce a character. And, I do a basic outline, a plot outline, and a subplot line.
But, when it got down to the nuts and bolts of writing the first book, I didn't know if I should start on page one or not. So, my first novel actually began as a series of scenes, which I expanded into chapters. Eventually, I filled in the necessary background information to make a first draft. Needless to say, I didn't know if fiction was right for me.
With my second novel, I started on page one and progressed, one step (one scene) at a time, from start to finish. The work was more pleasurable, but it did not always follow my outline. I found the more I wrote, the more my characters were not happy with my plot. So, I listened to them, and the novel went along quite well after that.
Now, I am hard at work on my third novel. And, guess what? I'm back to square one. This book seems to favour the scene method. I have been struggling to write it from page one, but my mind keeps jumping to scenes that need to be written now, before the picture in my head is gone.
What have we learned? For me, it doesn't matter how the novel gets written, just as long as it does. Do you have to start at page one? My opinion -- no. I stressed out so much the first time and I love to write. Is there a right or wrong way to write a novel? Again, my opinion -- no. So, why stress -- just write and edit it later.