A writer should always be asking, ‘What if …?’ or ‘What happens?’ These questions are the catalyst for the thought processes that develop plot, character and setting. What happens when a bored housewife goes on holiday to Greece and meets a sweet-talking con man? Or when a gangster falls in love with a girl from the other side of town?
Questions like this can give you the beginning of a plot, but so can such day-to-day activities as going for a bike ride (what happens if you get a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere and a stranger offers you a lift?), going to work (what happens when a new colleague starts muscling in on your job?) or going to the local coffee shop (what happens if two strangers strike up a conversation?). All these starting points can be used to spark stories of love, hate or redemption.
It’s up to you to stretch that idea to make a story, to build a framework on which your novel can depend. That first question may have got you going, but thousands of other questions must follow: what happens when the people in the coffee shop exchange phone numbers? What happens when it is not the girl in the coffee shop but her flat mate who answers the phone? And so on.