Time spent planning your mission ahead of time is always time well spent.  Be as organized as possible and write down your ideas.  Here is a basic checklist for planning a mission.  The more planning you do before diving into the Editor, the easier it will be to create a successful mission that everyone will enjoy playing.
First, Single player or Multi-player?
 Single Player Multi-player
 Story Misssion or Challenge Mission   2, 3 or 4 players
 Design of terrain Style of play, i.e. Free for all or Allies
 What type of enemy? Type of terrain
 Where and how will it engage the player? Will there be any AI enemies or Neutral bases?
 How many areas will be needed to define specific triggers or actions?

How many areas will be needed to define specific triggers or actions?

 How many unit groups will be needed to create the action and be a challenging enemy? Remember to keep it simple.  In a multiplayer game the action is (mostly) provided by the players.
  • Sketch it out on paper, listing all of the areas, unit groups, neutral armies/structures, etc.
  • Write out the Mission Objectives & Briefing. 
  • Will you need any messages to display briefly or longer on the screen during play?
  • Choose a good name for your mission; a few words at most.
Must I start from scratch?
NO!  The Mission Editor has the ability to import existing .pdb files so that you can modify and save them as a new mission.  You can go to the Forum and tap Download on any of the mission .pdb files.  Save them in your M folder, or wherever you will remember.  In the Mission Editor go to File / Import Mission Pack.  Navigate to the .pdb file you have just saved and click Open.  Then be sure to save it as an .ld file.  You can check out all the triggers, unit groups, etc. that have already been created.  Modify the mission in any creative way you want to, and save it as a new mission.
NOTE: Switches and Areas are named.  Be sure that you give unique names to all your switches, areas, groups, variables.  This is very important as the Editor will not warn you if you have duplicates.
Also... if you delete or rename an Area or Switch you will not be warned.  It just won't work.  So be sure to watch out for these changes.
Now open M (the editor) and start implementing your ideas.

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