Q: Do you generally start with mood, title, character, concept, …?
A: I have a document on the cloud I call my “story bucket.” It’s just a long list of cool stuff that occurred to me, sometimes developed and carefully documented, sometime unintelligible (the incomprehensible ones tend to be the most fun!). When I get a hankering to write something new, I plan the parameters like an engineer — how long? What mood/genre? When’s my deadline? Who’s my audience? — then pick a compatible idea out of the bucket and draft a writing schedule. Away we go.
It may not be the romantic image of the Muse whispering in my ear, but my degree was in Economics. Different strokes, folks.