There are many ways to start a book. A striking title that is both umbrella and foundation. A startling sentence that becomes the seed from which your story sprouts. An experience you fictionalize and twist into novel-length. A character.
A character. That is where I am. When I last posted about my WIP, a secondary character had just surprised me with his strength and faltering moral compass. It was the first time a character of mine had taken control; and now I wonder, how much control do I give them?
For this post I chose the picture of a scene from The Scarlet Letter because, in his writing, Nathaniel Hawthorne was greatly influenced by the world around him. We all are to a certain extent, but I certainly do not write about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, global warming or even healthcare reform. Some of this is because the nature of publishing has changed. There is a much longer period from between writing and publication now than in the early 19th Century. Hawthorne lived in a Puritanical community, and he wasn't afraid to shine light on its hypocrisy. He was also part of the Transcendentalist movement. Do we even have movements any more?
From where does your plot come? Do you outline your plot first, or let it develop? Do you hit on the high points and fill in the subplot later? Do you start with a title, a character, a sentence and fertilize until the blooms are abundant?