With me so far?
Within the framework of a story are three major elements:
Winding it up, the structure indicates that there must be a beginning, a middle, and an end.
We will not be discussing Plot. Plot is different from structure because it deals with a story's design. The architectural design of the structure. We'll deal with plot on another day.
So, does every writer need to structure their story the same way?
Of course not. You, as a writer, must figure out what works best for you from a various set of designs.
Some writers outline first.
Some writers begin with page one and just write.
Some writers start with character sketches and go from there.
Most writers are flexible with their ideas and plots and sketches. To them, so long as it all works out in the end, whatever worked was how it should have been.
So, how do you as the writer keep all of the bits and pieces of your story straight in your head and not float away?
One author I know uses Storyboarding. What they use is have a very large white dry-erase board hanging on a wall in their office. By figuring out the beginnings of the characters she maps out in a couple of sentences what the physical action is going to be. If there is a romantic relationship, she maps that out as well.
By using the storyboard, you can check your time line to be sure things are progressing in the right order. You can track your character development, even your settings, to make sure everything is in conjunction with everything else and all of these elements are compatible with the story line.
Don't be set on the ideas that you start with when you create your story line. Ideas will come to you as you write. It's up to you to decide if you are going to use them or not. Some ideas are just what your story was looking for, other ideas can be captured for use later either in this story or another story.
All in all, have fun with your story and don't be too rigid in your planning.
Writing Resource: How I Write - Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof