Check out this article about Span of Control by Jay Lake. The term refers to the size and shape of the story he can hold in his head at one time, to make it a coherent single entity, esp in first draft form
Me, I don’t have that. Or maybe I should say I don’t use that. I tend to create a situation for the characters to solve, add multiple antagonists, then begin working through the conflicts. I don’t try to hold a part of it in my head as a coherent story idea, because I feel more like I’m riding a wave of whatever goal/setting/resource/conflict is ongoing at the moment.
Eventually, I realize that the story has been running long enough and needs to be wrapped up. All I do then is continue the conflicts, but the conflicts begin to resolve themselves. Sometimes that means it’s time for people to stop surviving the dangers they face. Sometimes it means they need to break down emotionally and surrender. In any event, stuff starts to resolve.
So, everything is outside my span of control, and maybe that’s why I find writing such a painful, laborious process.
Also, I loved Rocket Science.