Where does a story begin? Is it the moment when you pick up a pen? Is it when you think of a title, or the first sentence?
For me, every story starts with a question. Perhaps you see two people in the street, and you think to yourself ‘I wonder what they’re arguing about?’. One thought leads to another, and you end up writing a story about an arguing couple.
The questions, for me, are always the jumping off point. Why is he doing that? What’s in that bag? What’s behind the locked door? What makes me feel like this? What would make this better? How could anyone do this? What’s over there? Who is she/he/them? Why does that dog hate him?
My favourite question is usually ‘While everyone’s paying attention to them, what are those people in the background doing?’
Then whilst writing, I try keeping the question in my head, and at the end, I ask myself ‘did I answer the question?’
Of course, by then, I usually have a huge pile of other questions…