You writers out there, how do you go about structuring your stories? Do you have a plan, or do you just wing it? And do you plot it out? Do you have your characters dance on plot's puppet strings?
All these are valid ways to write, some maybe more efficient than others. But whatever sets your hair on fire, you know, sets your hair on fire.
As for myself, I've always fleshed out my characters first. I devise a central character, and then a core of three or maybe more about him/her. I ask:
What do they want? How do they get what they want? Do they really want what they say they want?
Then I create an event to set them all in motion, and I'm off and running. Things change along the way, of course, although it's usually the tone of the story, the mood, and sometimes the peripheral plot twists.
I'd be interested in hearing from you writers, how you go about imagining story.