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.