In 2007 I was introduced the the National Novel writing month challenge, which is a challenge to write an entire novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November.
On November first, I started out with a story about a 10 year old girl named Alissa who found and raised a baby dragon. She lived in a small village and was the daughter of the village Matriarch, and believed she was destined to become a Dream Keeper. Destiny, however, is not as inevitable as it sometimes seems, and the choices she would make under the influence of her dragon, Jayden would change her destiny...
I didn't think ahead at all, in proper NaNo novel fashion, I was just making it up as I went along. Content matters less than number of words in NaNo novels.
Eventually I came to a point in the story where I needed an external threat for Allissa and Jayden to save the village from. Thus Paragangia was created: a high tech Alien culture coming to mine in the Ancient Forest for a material called Dream Stone which they needed to build a communication system.
With them was a shy young American anthropologist call Jason Scott-Harris, and expert in primative cultures, whom the Paragangians had hired to negotiate with the people of D'zeron to get permission to mine for dream Stone.
By the middle of November the story had basically divided into two stories:
First, the story of Allissa, Jayden and Allissa's boyfreind Chathalen, which takes place in the village of D'zeron and Allissa's journey with Jayden to the mountains where the dragons live and beyond that to the Ancient Forest.
Second, the story of Jason Scott-Harris traveling to D'zeron with his new Paragangian friend Harris Jenzar, who believes Jason is the lost son of a slain Paragangian leader, and wants him to return to Paragangia and take over the government.
Paragangia gradually became the main story, and D'zeron just an isolated episode in the history of Paragangia.
Over the years, as the story continued to evolve, D'zeron became again more central to the story, still secondary to Paragangia.
By the end of November 2007 I had 57,000 words of a story which clearly needed to be much longer than that to have any hope of having a complete story line. And I knew nothing yet of how to write a story, so it was quite badly written.
I began trying to draw characters from the NaNo novel in December 2007 by firelight when our power was out for several days during an ice storm.