Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reality: A Good Source for Fiction

News can be a wonderful source for ideas about fiction. Even without capitalizing on the actual people in a particular event and thus opening yourself to litigation. If you merely ask a few simple questions, you can unearth multiple story ideas in any genre, to use as the main part or the backdrop. How do you go about it?

While news reports of a tragedy may seem the logical choice, tucked between ads for insurance and mortuaries can be other thought provoking items. (Read the story in the photo above.) Here I used a headline without connection to death – at least one that no one realizes... Bwhaha...(Cozy Murder Mystery)

Women’s Fiction/Contemporary
Had this woman made someone angry? Was the wrong address recognized/posted by the angry party who decided to use it as an excuse to upset/ harm her, even steal her kitten? If so, what was the original grievance? Was it legitimate? What if this woman was an up-and-coming personality? Was it an act of cruelty or revenge or jealousy? Was it a prank? How does the woman deal with it? Or, how does the perpetrator change and grow through the consequences of this deed?

Romantic Suspense:
Does a police investigator become emotionally involved with the victim? To what lengths will he go to retrieve the missing items, especially when she reveals that they include a journal with notations of a highly critical matter? Does an old boyfriend that she’s afraid of still possess a key? Has the locksmith she’s hired to replace the locks kept a copy of the key? What about that hunky neighbor or boss or faithful old friend whose been in love with her and now has a chance to finally show it as he helps her though this difficulty?

Science Fiction:
Will some secret government agency become involved in tracking down the missing kitty because it really is an information gathering robot that was tracking a terrorist cell? Or, maybe the kitten is an extraterrestrial intelligence who knew that the new DVD this woman bought actually contained the plans to overtake the earth.

Young Adult
Does a ten-year-old child return the kitten, only to discover that the owner looks like an older version of herself and is actually the sister that she was separated from when the Department of Child Services took them away from their family? How do they get together again? What secrets ripped the family apart? 

Or…maybe the kitten is a werewolf/ shape-shifter…

Most of these are well-used, but you get the idea. 

What recent news item do you think would make a really good diving board into the pool of fiction?

Mary Allen has authored many articles and two books of poems, “Journey to Christmas” and “Ten Days to an Empty Tomb”.  She was named La Porte County Poet Laureate 2010 and currently is Poetry Chair for Arts in the Park La Porte, but that doesn't stop her from writing fiction.


  1. I remember in the '70's watching a movie and at first I thought it started with the Lindbergh kidnapping. No, it was a similar event in the story, which appeared not only in the movie but the book -- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christy.

    I believe actual legal cases inspired books by the involved lawyers -- John Grisham and Randy Singer.