I don't mean your first chapter, page, or sentence. I mean how do you come up with stories at all? When and where does an idea first visit you? Unless it's always different. I'm curious to see how the entire worlds of other authors burst into life like a new star. For me, it's always one of three things. 1: I see something in the world (people, places, or things) that make me say "hmm... that would be an interesting aspect of a book. Before I know it, boom, characters, locations, and scenes are dancing around my head like mad. 2: I hear a dramatic new song. This usually happens when I'm running. I like to listen to orchestral music in different genres (dramatic, classical, emotional) while running. This often spins itself into powerful scenes between characters I might not even know yet. Often a song will spark an imaginary situation in my head, and the rest of a story gets built around it on consequent runs until I have a whole book's worth. 3: I dream it. This is the craziest, most random, and honestly frightening for me. These stories are usually thrillers or horror novels. Every once in a while, I'll wake up in a cold sweat with the most vivid nightmare still bouncing around my cranium. They can be very detailed, and contain enough mysterious elements to spin into an entire book. I once dreamed about a woman crossing between planes by walking through a broken doorway, into a place where shadows are alive and represent the person's worst impulses. That one's a story in the making. What about you guys? How are your stories born? I'm interested to hear all the different ways worlds are built in the minds of authors, long before they ever appear on paper (or a screen).