I usually approach a story with a strong voice, a character or characters with a problem, and a setting. The voice is the engine that propels the narrative. Sometimes I know the ending, sometimes I have a vague idea of what the ending must ultimately be, but the journey of the story influences and enriches how I arrive there. Even when I know ultimately what state of being the character must arrive at the end of the story, the means by which the character arrives influences so very much, and in many ways, writes the story. It is sometimes clear, sometimes muddled.
I am muddled right now as I work on a picture book, Miss Smackbottom Lives Three Doors Down. I know my main character, I know my antagonist, I know what must transpire, and I have a sense of the state of being at which my character must arrive by the end. Still, a missing link (s) eludes me. As if hiding behind an opaque screen in my writing mind that I can almost make out, it is playing hide and seek, throwing hints in my direction if I don't "think" too hard. This frustrates and amazes me because I recognize the creative process, and know I have to allow myself access by crawling through a window, so to speak, instead of knocking on the front door demanding it show itself. And, of course, practice patience and stillness. I do this by smiling at the games of my muse, who is just waiting for me to figure out the solution that completes the story.