Q: Do you generally start with mood, title, character, concept, …?
A: My best stories start with a character.
At any given time I have several ideas floating around in my mind for settings, concepts, or even opening lines, but it isn’t until I attach a character to one of those ideas that the story begins to form. The rest of the story takes shape based on the character—what they desire, what they have to overcome, and so on.
I certainly never start with a title. Titles are the worst!