My writing process is very straightforward, if anything about fantasy fiction can be described as such. A novel is born out of a character's biggest fear or desire, which is usually gleaned from a single concept, image, or question. I usually know what the story's about and who the character is before I start writing, but not much else.
For example, my current work in progress, Terra Paradox, was in the beginning a story about a teenager who found a way to travel to a different dimension much more advanced than her own. In the process, she learned the necessary information to defeat an enemy at home. Along the way there would be peril, romance, humour and friendship.
I hadn't intended to require writing a dissertation on the physics of magic, or confuse myself with questions about what constitutes reality, but that's where the story, a few chapters later, took me. Now, without giving away too much, I have a protagonist who may or may not be a complete figment of the other protagonist's imagination.
To further complicate things, much of this story occurs within the same universe as my Tyn Man and Mad Elf stories. Will the ideas born out of this story stay at the back of my mind and somehow influence the whole trilogy? As I am a stickler for continuity, to divorce Paradox from the Fiddle trilogy I would have to redo half the novel from scratch. I am not about to do that.
As far as the story's internal workings, however, Terra Paradox remains pretty straightforward. The Big Questions are there, but the Problem At Hand supersedes them. Perhaps there is enough there for a sequel or two (I love those).
It got me thinking, though, about how much of our life hinges on our perception of it. My reality is different from yours. Yet we all have to occupy this same space. Where we to share a dream, what would it look like? Would our unconscious minds battle for control or work together to create the incoherent tapestry of dreams? When so many of my stories were born from my dreams, can I truly claim these ideas for my own?