Oscar Wilde said: Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.
It's true, and that's why writers could gain much from reading the newspaper. You can't make up some of the real stories that happen every day outside our windows.
How about the tourist who took her Uber driver sightseeing because she had no one else? Fortunately, it's a heartwarming story, but imagine how it might have come to a ghastly end? Or perhaps they'd fall in love. So many possibilities.
Whether you want some writing practice or you need to infuse your story with new energy, the newspaper will not let you down.
Even ads can offer unique plot twists. Take the old one to the right. What if your MC stumbled across this vintage car at a salvage lot, bought it for a couple hundred dollars with the intention of restoring it but discovered something in the trunk: a body, a fortune, a bundle of letters, a map...
If you're looking for fresh ideas, consider these three ways the news can brighten your story.
1. Discover a new character. Flip to a random page and read the top story. Who's it about? What makes them interesting? What might they not be telling us? If there's a photo, even better. There's no better place to find real characters than in real life.
2. Create a plot twist. Take a story from the front page, add a weather forecast that would have created a real disaster. Maybe it's a presidential debate amidst a snowstorm. What happens when no one shows? Perhaps it's a fast food chain that shuts its doors for a safety training, but it's a heatwave, and people are thirsty. Will they open doors?
3. Update your setting. Turn to the Style section for inspiration on homes, landscapes, or modern neighborhoods. Then flip to the home sale pages and mash up a neighborhood with million dollar homes that can't sell.
What's happening to your MC right now? Look up tomorrow's weather forecast in Minnesota or take a quote from Peyton Manning after today's victory. How can use these news events to liven up your story?
I hope these ideas help. Please share your experiences or other creative uses of the news.
If you are a writer in search of a story, look no further than today's Sunday paper. It's possible that many of the current popular YA dystopian epics began with a writer reading a headline. In fact, many novels either take old news or create possible future scenarios.
George Orwell's original dystopian novel, "1984", forecasts Big Brother and a government-controlled society. Stephen King's tome, "11/22/63" shares a time-traveling twist on Kennedy's assassination. George R.R. Martin surely studied royal histories before writing his "Game of Thrones" series. Harper Lee culled the plot for "To Kill a Mockingbird" from actual hometown events.
So if you need a story idea, pick up the paper.
Here are five possible story starters for budding writers in need of a beginning taken directly from news headlines:
1. A meteor explodes over the Russian city of CHELYABSINK. The most powerful meteor to strike our atmosphere in over a century, it injures more than 1400 people.
2. Three people die and hundreds are injured when two Chechen Islamist brothers explode bombs at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts.
3. Scientists describe the first human embryonic stem cells developed by cloning.
4. American Edward Snowden discloses a U.S. government surveillance program to news publications. He flees the country, and is granted temporary asylum in Russia after living in the airport.
5. An airplane originating from Malaysia and carrying more than 200 passengers - including two with fake passports - disappears over the South China Sea. Rumors of terrorism and alien abductions abound.
Remember, the news story is just a seed, where you take it is up to you. Happy writing!