I don’t need much in order to write.
Some writers plan their stories, and research them down to the last detail before they ever begin to put pen to paper. Some writers construct their plots in note form and some work up character sheets.
I do none of those things.
It might be because I haven’t actually been writing long-form fiction for very long, or it might be because I’m lazy, but when I sat down to write my first novel, I had no idea what it was going to be about, who was in it, or when or where it was going to be set. I simply began to write, and the first few sentences determined the tone of what became “Savant”, a near-future SF novel about parenting, autism and probability. You see... I don’t think I could ever have intended to write that book. My intentions had nothing to do with it, in the end; the thing more-or-less wrote itself. Every chapter, every event, every character informed the next, and so the thing grew, almost as if by magic.
When I wrote “Naming Names”, I did, at the very least, have a first scene in mind, and the kernel of an idea for the main theme. That was it. That was all I had.
My third novel, “Prom Queen” had a plot. It was about a page and a half long, and since this novel was going to have an ensemble cast, I had a sentence for each of the characters. That’s all I had before I began writing.
I don’t like to have too much information up front. For me, that would be like reading every review of a movie, including all the spoilers, before seeing it. I want my novels to be the movies in my head, to unfold for me, unbidden, in my mind’s eye. I’m lucky, because, for all sensible purposes, that’s exactly what they do.
Part of the reason I continue to write novels, is to watch the movies in my head. One day, I hope that’s the reason why you’ll want to read them.