I'm taking a whole new approach to writing, and it's proving to be a worthwhile experience.
With my first two novels, I thought of a concept. For example, for my last novel I thought of the impact of a grandmother dying and leaving last wishes for her two granddaughters to broaden their horizons in very specific ways. Then, I pretty much started writing. The plot points came out as the story did, new characters emerged (sometimes unexpectedly), and even the endings were somewhat of a surprise to me.
With this novel, I'm trying to be much more strategic. An agent is only going to see the first three chapters, so I can't waste time getting the story started. I wrote a full synopsis, and then decided to start the story about a third of the way into my synopsis. With each chapter, I'm writing key points that the chapter needs to achieve. Once those points have been achieved, the chapter is over.
I think it's working, but only time - and eventually some feedback from others - will tell whether this book will go anywhere. Despite the strategic approach, this is a story I've long wanted to tell, and my heart is going into each (carefully constructed) sentence.