I usually lurk on this forum. I just wanted to say thank you for posting the questions and answers!
( goes back into hiding)
I just attended Hypericon in Nashville, and question was answered by a panel.
It seems there are as many ways to plot as there are writers.
My way is to just append notes to the end of my Word Document, if I have an idea, and don't have the inclination to write about it. Then chapters get titled, using Headers.
Greg Cook stated that he never outlined, but then made the point, that he had found that he really kept a detailed outline in his head.
[Really glad to see some positive comments on Scrivener for Windows - I've been wondering if it's worth trying!]
For me so far, it depends on the length of what I'm writing, and how long I've had the idea.
Most things I write need some kind of plotting, usually pretty vague for the first draft. Sort of allows me to compensate for any characters who are pretty firm about their way of doing things, no matter what I say they should be doing at this point. The second draft is then usually based on a pretty heavy plan.
However, there was a story just for a friend of mine that didn't need any notes whatsoever. The idea had been brewing for three months, so by the time I sat down to write it, I knew exactly how it went.
Everything I write is spontaneous. Usually a story idea comes to me first as a solid plot idea. Since it's less about the characters for me, my rewrite is generally for elaborating on the characters. I almost always write the first draft very quickly, just to get the entire plot/premise out on paper.
Later, I return to ensure that the plot moves at the pace it should, that there's ample tension and reason for the characters to be involved, etc. ^.^
Haven't written any Steampunk, but. I have a series of stories about Gargoyles called Clan of the Grotesque (about 7 stories, averaging 7-9 pages), so I come up with an idea, do the necessary research. Then open a regular notepad on my desktop and make notes of general ideas, work it all out and then follow that as I write.