This is a question I hear a lot when I speak about the process of writing and/or drawing with people. So I figure this might be the perfect way to begin a Story Blog--giving advice on "where to start." (Please note that, like almost all story topics, I'll have to break it up into several different entries. And try to keep them in short, digestible chunks.)
Ok, now that I think about it, my first tip actually comes BEFORE Tip #1. And that is to take everything I say (or anything ANYBODY says) with a grain of salt. All I can do is talk about what works for me and hope that some of it might work for you. And with that said, it's time for....
START WITH THESE 4 QUESTIONS:
Who is your main character?
What does he want?
Why does he want it?
And why can't he get it?
That's it. Believe me, you have your work cut out for you just answering those. Notice they don't contain the standard grade school terms of Beginning, Middle, and End. Or Plot. Or Theme. Or even the word Story itself. That's because those come later. And for me, trying to figure out things like story beats, or character arcs without being able to answer those first 4 BASIC QUESTIONS is a huge mistake--like putting the cart before the horse.
Of course I have further advice on just how to make those answers good ones, but that will have to be the topic of another entry.