People often ask me where my book ideas come from. Since I recently finished revisions on Revenge Queen and I just finished the first draft of Boy Swap, I am currently obsessing over what to write next while I wait for my fabulous critique partners to critique Boy Swap. It's a strange feeling, at least for me, because I feel a bit panicky if I don't have a big list of ideas to choose from. So here's what I do:
1) Create a Word document and lazily call it Ideas.doc. Leave it open on my laptop all the time.
2) Study everything, everywhere. Look at what people are saying and what they are doing. Exp., Saw a couple of girls bullying another girl. Hmm...bullies. What can I do with a bully?
3) Stare off into space a bunch and reflect on different experiences I had in jr. high and high school. Can I use anything as a springboard and turn it into something cool (because just using one of my experiences would be B-O-R-I-N-G.)?
4) Start twisting any ideas that are sparking together. How can ____ be made cooler/weirder/more fun/crazier?
5) Obsess about this a lot. Whenever I'm not doing something else, think about what I can write about.
6) Watch TV. Read lots of magazines. Surf the Web. Keep up with what is new and fun and keep on pondering away.
7) Run to my open Ideas.doc throughout the day and type short little notes that could turn into something later.
8) Do 1-7 for about a week. Then, try and write a bunch of back cover blurbs (few paragraph summaries) for my various book ideas.
8) E-mail blurbs to my writing friends/critique partners and ask them which book(s) sounds the coolest.
9) E-mail the coolest ideas to my agent and see which one is the best.
10) Start writing.
I'll show you a real example too. I finished Espressologist and was doing my obsessing over what to write next. Made lots and lots of notes and wrote lots of blurbs. I was watching TV one day and a lady on a talk show was talking about how she wanted to get revenge on her cheating boyfriend. And I thought, wouldn't it be snazzy if you could just pay someone to do that for you? Shortly after that, I had the blurb for Revenge Queen (which I absolutely LOVED writing. I love, love, love this book):
Ariana Covington is every parent’s dream: intelligent, beautiful, kind, and giving. She’s a straight A student and loved by all at Thomas Jefferson High—especially the teachers and administrators who wish more students were just like her. No one, not even her best friend, knows that she is running a revenge Web site for the school. You paypal her the cash and she’ll carry out your revenge for you. She is successfully running her double life until someone pays her huge to commit the biggest revenge act of all on her best friend in front of the whole school.
So that is what I do anyway! I'm about to enter the blurb writing stage so I'm off to work...