In order to build the deck of your dreams you will need to start with a deck plan. This will be necessary to obtain permits, order materials, and as a reference while constructing your deck. A good deck plan should be drawn to scale, probably 1/4" = 1'. Using graph paper or a computer drafting system can make drawing a plan much easier. You will need to show the position and size of all of your frost footings, beams, and joists to complete your framing plan. Make notes for the size and type of the framing materials and the spacing of joists and posts. You will have to also note the house and stairs.
An overhead view or plan view of the framing is usually all that is required for a permit if your plan possesses all the necessary notes. In some cases elevation plans or front and side views may be required for further clarification. 3D views are not required but can be helpful in visualizing the finished project. However to produce 3D drawings you will probably have to use a computer design tool.
Some plans reference details such as the ledger board attachment or a footing detail. The more information that is available on the plans the less room there is for interpretation and error. Building plan review likes to see a listing of the decking material, hardware, fasteners, and railing material. Some composite materials don't have ES reports and are not approved for use.
Decks.com has hundreds of deck plans available for download. You can also work with a Decks.com draftsman to draw a custom deck plan for you. This service is a good investment if you are unsure of how to approach the construction of your design.
You should always have a building inspector, architect, or engineer review your plans even when it isn't required. It is best to error on the side of caution. It is not uncommon for inspectors to make notes or corrections to your plans or ask for more information. Don't be offended. If you follow their advice you can usually work through any issues.