I posted on Facebook, asking for a suggestion for this week's blog post and got this idea from Monica Tillery.
How do you come up with your next idea?
There are a few ways.
1. As you're writing a book, you can frequently get snatches of ideas, like themes you'd like to explore or characters who intrigue you...or even a secondary character tickles your fancy but you know you can't do much with him in your current ms...Write those down.
2. You watch a tv show or a movie that has a plot that's acted out in a way you didn't expect. YOU thought it was going to go in a whole different direction...Write that down. It might be your next book...or a piece of the puzzle of your next book.
3. You see people on the street or on the subway or in Starbucks and you wonder...how did they get together (if you're a romance writer) OR what if he killed her (if you write mysteries or suspense) OR what if they're plotting to plant a dirty bomb (if you write thrillers).
Seriously, those are my 3 best avenues for "next books."
But I normally don't have a problem with what I'm going to write for HQ. Because they like trope or hook plots, I get urges to write some things over others. For instance, I have a marriage of convenience plot all ready to go. I love writing enemies to lovers stories. Single mom or single dad? Two of my favorite types of stories. Nerd who grows up to be gorgeous -- and rich...I could write that several times a year. LOL
So, if you write in a genre that repeats stories (and most of us do) once you choose your story, your big job is figuring out how to make it unique.
You do that through characters who have unique conflicts and unique personalities. Conflicts are the engines that drive stories; so if you come up with a hero/heroine/protagonist who has a real conflict, your book will create its own uniqueness. Also you must come up with a protagonist who is genuinely cool, not just a motorcycle-riding-sunglass-wearing cardboard character. Looks are important, but actions always speak louder than description. Never say, he was cool. Give him (or her) actions that DEMONSTRATE he or she is cool.
The second important thing to remember is that you don't let the plot drag the characters along. Instead, having made sure your characters match your story type, you can then let them work their way to the plot points organically. (Thus the term organic writing. Letting your characters act out the plot in the way they really would act it out.) This prevents those lumpy, bumpy stories where the characters are doing things they wouldn't normally do. It avoids reader, "Huh?" syndrome. :)
I'm reading a book right now that is mesmerizing. It is a typical trope plot -- bodyguard story, really. But the trope is virtually hidden because the characters are so good and the plot moves organically. When I read a book like this, a book that I fall into and never want to come out of, it inspires me to work that much harder on MY characters...so that they can act out the plot organically and I don't have to worry that my trope has been done a million times. Caught up in the unique characters, Readers won't see the trope. :)
And that's how you come up with your next book...
Happy Monday and Happy Reading