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How to Write and Publish a Novel: Part One

I've decided for the next few weeks that it might be fun to bring everyone through the process of writing and publishing- from getting the idea, writing the first draft, revising, querying, going on submissions via your agent, what to expect from your editor, etc.

So, first up: Part One-- The Idea.

Some people have tons and tons of ideas. I have something like 35 of them on a list on my computer. Most of them will never see thel ight of day. Sometimes ideas come from nowhere, but mostly, it comes from actively brainstorming.

So let's say you are looking for the next great idea. There are a few techniques you can use to find a good hook. Trust me, you want a good hook, as that's what will, well, hook an agent.

A few prompts:

*Read some newspapers, find a crazy story, and fictionalize it. 

*Come up with a character who has dreamt of something forever-- and then give it to her

*Go to wikipedia and type in fairy tales, monsters, myths, tragedies.... and keep clicking from one page to the next.

*Read a book on historical scandals. SO much opportunity there.

*Take a classic book (*COUGH*Pride and Prejudice*COUGH) and modernize it. Try to steer clear of the overdone ones like Cinderella-- unless you've got a super modern twist. Shakespeare works too.

*Think about yoru favorite TV shows-- Ally Carter came up with her NYT bestselling Gallagher Girls series about teens at a boarding school for spies because she was watching Alias. What about the other big shows- LOST could inspire a book about a group of teens lost on an island or in the wilderness. THE OC could inspire you to write about a guy from the wrong side of teh tracks woh gets a scholarship to a fancy boarding school.... Veronica Mars could inspire you to write about a teen who works as  PI. The list is endless.

*Take a common truth and twist it. Take, for instance, HANCOCK. They reinvented the superhero flick becuase in this one, Hancock is a jerk and no one wants his help, because he causes too much damage when he rescues people. What else is popular in fiction right now? Vampires? Great. Make them pimply faced losers instead of gods. Zombies? Awesome. How about the brain eating thing is an unfortunate myth and they're actually vegetarians, and they eat so much lettuce it's turned them green? How about the elite boarding school cliche? What if there was a glitch in admissions and they let in a whole pack of people who don't belong there-- but there are so many of they turn the social ladder upside down?

So, there ya go. A few ways to develop an idea. Up next: Characters.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 28th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
Here's a perfect example of a real news story that could inspire a fictional story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090828/ap_on_re_eu/eu_netherlands_young_sailor
Aug. 28th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
This is a great idea, Mandy! I am really looking forward to each segment you post!
Aug. 28th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Lol, the fairy tales and historical scandals are my favorites. I've done both, and most of my ideas center around one or the other (I actually have a list of historical figures I want to turn into YA novels somehow.)
Aug. 28th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
Great list, Mandy! I don't really keep track of where my ideas come from, but reading your list, all of a sudden I can trace some of them back!
Aug. 28th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
Ooo I am loving this idea of furture posts! I've never really searched out an idea. Usually something random comes to mind, and I go with it. But I like all the options you listed. I think I'm going to have to try that.
Aug. 29th, 2009 02:06 am (UTC)
What a great idea! I get ideas from everywhere, now I just need to focus on paring them down, my lists are getting really long! I look forward to reading more.
Aug. 29th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
This is a wonderful idea! Thanks for the info.

Just bought your book! I'm so excited to start reading it.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
I dig it! Good idea for a series. :D
Sep. 27th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
So you're pretty much an angel for posting these. It's so great to see a published author taking the time to help the unpublished. It seems like just yesterday I was reading about you getting an agent, and now you're on, what you're FOURTH printing?

Insanity. Totally earned, of course.

I really needed to read this Part One: The Idea. I have been struggling to come up with an idea of something to write. Hopefully using your advice, I'll be able to come up with something. Off to read Part Two!
Sep. 27th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
Ahh shoot. I wasn't logged in. x]
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
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