Before writing my first novel I read several books, and heaps of articles on the actual process. For anyone who has done this you will know there are probably as many ideas out there as there are novelists. The best advice is to try different ways and find out what works best for you.
Most of the time I don’t think too much about my process, but earlier in the week someone asked me about it, and whether I start with a situation or a character.
To be honest I wasn’t sure. They both appear quite close together and I thought (for me) they were possibly interchangeable, but having spent more time thinking about it I realised that wasn’t so.
With my first novel Driftwood, it was the context of two people meeting after 20 years that first came to mind. The character of Juliet appeared soon afterwards followed by Luke, and from there how they had changed, the reasons for them parting originally, and how that impacted on them in the present.
My current work in progress (at editing stage) started with the idea of how differently people would deal with the after effects of a traumatic event in their lives.
I have a first draft of another novel about three-quarters finished, and that again started with a situation.
With each one the protagonist appeared shortly after the initial idea, but interestingly it seems to be the situation that comes first for me.
Once I have a situation and a protagonist I let them settle in the back of my mind, and develop on their own for quite a while before I put anything down on paper.