Maybe you are just beginning your novel. Maybe you have a full draft and are ready to set it aside and reimagine your story. Wherever you are in the process, these questions are essential.
Before reading more, answer this question with whatever comes to mind, big or small, specific or abstract.
Now, consider these elements (and know that it is absolutely fine if many of them are not yet clear to you):
Who are your characters?
What are the main settings?
What big themes, ideas, or questions are you exploring?
What is the main conflict?
Going forward, keep this page nearby. Pin it to your wall, or keep it open on your computer, or tuck it into your notebook to access easily. Your list of knowns and unknowns will grow longer and more complicated as you work through the lessons—that is a good thing! You will also have incredible bursts of clarity—and that will be a good thing, too.