I have a folder on my computer stuffed with completely random scenes, unconnected to any of the novels I’m working on. They’re just bits that come to me when I pass an interesting gate or watch people on the train or walk by ducks on the river, and I shove them into that folder to molder.
The other day, one of those scenes came poking out of the back of my mind and, without warning, exploded into an entire story. It was an entirely different direction than I had considered taking with that scene, but it was all there. I spent most of the day keeping baby entertained with one hand and scribbling madly in my notebook with the other. (All my actual writing is done on the computer, but colorful pens and grid paper are my preferred method of plotting.)
Most of my novels have started that way—a little kernel that pops into a big story, not perfectly smooth, but fairly substantial and wanting only some filling out.
How does your story come together? Do you start with character, events, places, or something else completely?