From talking with other writers/creators I've found there tend to be a few different approaches to story creation. There are the Outliners and those who fly by the seat of their pants, also known as Pantsters.
Whether you're a Outliner or a Pantster, there are a couple of approaches to how you arrive at your main story. Some use a character based approach. Others start with a world. A few base their story on an idea - usually a "What if...?"
If you've done a little writing, you might already know - am I a Pantster or an Outliner?
I am definately a Pantster and so, it seems, is one of my favorite authors, Stephen King.
“There’s no outline, nothing like that. That freezes it, it takes what should be a liquid, plastic, malleable thing to me and turns it into something else. Hey, to me it’s the difference between going to a canvas and painting a picture and going out and buying a Craftsmaster paint-by-the-numbers kit.” - from “Digging Up Stories With Stephen King” by W.C. Stroby, March 1992 WDIf you've done more writing, you might also have an idea of how the story comes to you:
- A character who whispers in your brain, demanding their story be told, as Robert Jordan claims Conan did to him
- A world, complex and rich, full of mystery and wonder, like Dune, or the London Underground of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere
- A 'What If' idea - What if soldiers where deployed overseas at the behest of evil corporations run by vampires, seeking blood, not oil? - What if a man sat in a jail cell and waited, stocking footed (the image Stephen King says inspired his screenplay for Storm of the Century).
Here's more info on worldbuilding:
On Worldbuilding - Ilona Andrews
YouTube - Brandon Sanderson