For me the moment of conception is hard to pinpoint. Generally speaking it begins with one of two things.
The mental image of a single scene – either from a sleeping or waking dream. I often expand that scene into an exchange and from that exchange a background develops and at some point it hits critical mass and a whole world explodes into being inside my head.
The other option for me is a word or idea. For example, the words government soup recently struck my fancy. I realized there was something inherently amusing about government muck ups in a bureaucratic nightmare kind of way. So from there I began to craft characters to fit into this urban fantasy style ‘Office’ scenario.
The gestational period varies a lot. There are some stories that I began years ago that still haven’t really been birthed onto the page. And yes, if it sounds gross and messy it often is. Creation is not a pretty business. Beautiful at times, but not necessarily pretty.
Let us imagine the first two hurdles are overcome and the story begins to grow on the page. As I watch it grow from zero words to a hundred to a thousand I feel like a proud parent. I wonder how it will turn out and if it will go as expected or suddenly take a turn for the worse.
There are times I am secretly very proud or embarrassed depending on what the story does. I haven’t seen my stories to full maturity yet, they are still growing in a lot of ways. I feel like the oldest might be a confused early twenty something, but I am working on changing that.
How do you start your stories? What impetus drives your muse?