Good Day nataliemarie71
My approach is to try to establish rhythm, the flow of words. I tend to view any work of fiction I approach as an ocean from which all "life" of a particular narrative will spring. You know how all life sprang from the sea?
This is the approach I have found "works" for me. I used to struggle of questions just like the one you posed. But this is why it is so important to be a prolific reader, to be successful as a fiction writer. By reading you learn, you begin to figure out the methods and techniques that you like and don't like.
I am inspired, stylistically, by John Grisham, Mario Puzo (he is the most elegant stylist), Elmore Leonard, Philip K. Dick, Richard Wright, and Philip Roth. Armed with this, I tend to just sit down in front of the computer and start typing and see what comes up.
I find that whatever I write quickly is always better than anything I take too much time with, second guessing myself, and all the rest of it. I don't use outlines or anything like that. I'm not saying outlines aren't helpful. It depends on the individual.
My approach is to say: If I struggle to write it, you, the reader, will struggle to read it. Personally, I can forgive a lot if the writer is a good prose stylist. I am tempted to say that good style actually negates the possibility of certain weaknesses arise.
Anyway, for me, its not a question of 'characters' or 'plot' first. I just start with an idea.