Q is for...Questions and answers. When you are developing an idea for a novel or short story, the best thing you can do is ask questions. After you ask the questions, use different sources to find an answer. Ask questions that only you can answer. Ask questions that can only be solved by cracking open a book. Ask questions that require some extensive Internet research. Ask questions to other people and hold interviews. Question everything!
By doing this, you will make your piece unique and interesting. If you write a first draft and step back to ask, "If I were a reader, would I enjoy this story? If not, how can I change it to make it better?" After this initial step, keep asking questions until you have the story ready for review.
At that point, send it off to others to read it. Encourage them to ask questions and keep a critical eye open. When you get responses and your readers have finished the piece, ask them questions that really get to the heart of their reading experience. Don't ask, "Did you like it?" It is a generic question and is really a a yes or no situation. Instead, ask them specific things, such as "What did you like or dislike about the scene that starts on page 39? What made the characters seem realistic?" By being specific and giving them a question that they need to elaborate on, instead of giving a simple yes-or-no, you open the door to improving your writing and making your writing the best it can be.