There's been a lot of talk flying around the online writing community about first drafts lately. I'm sure this is because it's November. NaNo nuttiness is everywhere! :)
Anyway, it got me to thinking about that very first idea, that very first spark for the story.
For me, emotion always comes first. It's not attached to a character, or a setting, or a plot. Not right away. I tend to feel the emotion from the climax scene of the story first. The fear, guilt, terror.., whatever.
Of course the character builds pretty quickly around the emotion, but it's definitely what hits me first. I've always been a bit of a sap - I can get pretty weepy around certain commercials - and I empathize really well. I fear my emotional range is pretty wide and pretty deep. My folks stopped me watching Little House on the Prairie when I was a kid - couldn't get through too many episodes without sobbing!
So, for me, the emotion of the climax scene is the key to the whole story - the key to the idea.
How about you? What is the first spark of the story for you?