Whenever I'm asked to discuss how I came to write a particular story, I often have nothing worthwhile to say. So, when I read another writer's long, involved treatise about the creation of a story, I want to shout, "Bullshit!"
I suspect the bulk of those treatises are after-the-fact justifications written to appease readers who don't know any better or written as some sort of delusional marketing attempt. I can't recall story creation ever involving that much angst.
So, where do stories come from?
Let's call it a story spark. Some potentially insignificant thing sparks a story and, like a fire, the story grows from the kindling surrounding it.
For example, the spark might be an editor asking for a mystery set in Times Square, a call for submissions requesting ghost stories involving coal mining, or a magazine's regular use of holiday-themed women's stories.
Sometimes the spark catches fire immediately and I sit down to write. Sometimes it burns like an ember for several days before catching fire. Either way the story grows from that spark in the same way a fire grows: it engulfs the flammable story material around it.
My flammable story material comes from all I have done and all I have read and all I have studied, and it has piled up awaiting a story spark to ignite it. But I don't usually construct the story fire as I would a campfire.
Because my story fires are more like wildfires than campfires, I am often unable to discuss how I wrote any particular story. I just wrote it.
All the material was there waiting for a spark. When the spark came, so did the story.