I begin my novels with a question: Who killed whom and why? I’m not sure why I begin this way, but so far it’s worked for me. Once I have the killer and his/her motive established, the story logically wraps itself around the murder with all the clues and actions leading to the discovery of who killed whom and why.
Does this take away from the main character and her dilemma? Absolutely not. In fact, the solving of the murder becomes directly related to the main character's plight.
I understand many writers prefer to begin their stories with a main character or a specific setting. I suppose the best way to begin is the way that feels most natural to the writer.
What do you think? What is your preferred way to begin writing a story?