I've had some extra time recently to work on my fiction project. Here's where I am at the moment:
I think there will be two key stages to the development of a story. The first stage is the development of an idea-hook. The second stage is to make the idea-hook "malleable" so that it can be twisted, evolved, and - hopefully - developed to suggest fresh directions for the current story. I'm also hoping that each idea-hook can be developed to create completely new idea-hooks for new stories. Here's an example of what I mean by an idea-hook:
A couple of guys create a special chamber that time travellers can use to travel to the present:
A couple of young guys try to get time travellers (from the future) to travel to the present. They are aware of the problems of the time-travel paradox: that is, a time traveller could travel to the present and kill his grandmother thus posing the problem of how he could exist in the future to travel back to the present. They believe that even the slightest interaction with the present (even the disturbance of a few air molecules) could affect the future in such a way that the time traveller could not exist in the future, or problems could be caused for the people in the future. So they aim to create a chamber where a time traveller can arrive and then travel back to the future without interacting with any matter in any way. The chamber contains a vacuum and the guys vow not to tell anyone if their experiment is a success - they simply want to achieve the objective of meeting a time traveller for its own sake. They publish their intentions on the internet so that any future time traveller will - once the technology is established - be able to find out about the two guys and their vacuum chamber and then use the chamber as a destination.
I think this is a strong idea-hook. It can lead to some interesting "What - iffing":
What if a time traveller from the past arrives?
What if a time traveller arrives but a paradox, somehow, occurs anyway?
What if an alien lifeform from the present arrives in the chamber?
What if two time travellers arrive, but it's the two guys, and from the future?
What if a totally ordinary person from the future accidentally uses time-travel technology and is transported to the chamber?
What if the two guys have had a family member murdered? The two guys believe that no present punishment is fitting for the crime so they wish to bring someone from the future to dish out a punishment that fits the crime.
and with a view to developing a completely new story:
What if the time traveller arrives, escapes the chamber, murders the two guys and goes out in public to wreak havoc in some way? The story could start with ordinary people meeting someone who seems slightly strange and seemingly has special powers (achieved through the use of the future's technology).
I developed a system/strategy for the creating of idea-hooks, but, frustratingly, it stopped working after a while, so now I am looking into new ways to create idea-hooks. This could possible involve dialogue of some kind that explores a subject fully.