Gleaning Fiction Ideas from the News

Several years ago, a local newscaster inserted herself into a sensational news story. She thought she was being a good journalist. Instead, she became the story. And, she was fired from her job because of it.

That’s why I chuckled when I heard her complain that “Law & Order” was going to feature her story. She really got upset when she found out that her “character” was the murderer. As it turned out, the episode was only inspired in part by her story. It didn’t tell the real story.

“Law & Order” successfully gleaned their story ideas from the news on a regular basis. Another example of a story they used was Madonna’s adoption of a boy from Africa.

The News is More than the News

Whether you read a newspaper, listen to the evening news or a news channel, or get your news online, you’ll discover a wealth of ideas. You can’t pigeon-hole news. You’ll get everything, from serious news stories to politics to light-hearted stories.

Do you like to write murder mysteries? Love stories? Children’s stories? You’ll find a news story that can inspire you.


How would you solve a crime that occurred in your city? What story can you create around murders, bank robberies, drug raids, etc.? What characters can you develop as police officers, FBI agents, narcotics officers or security guards?

You could write a story based on the actual crime or you could take it in a completely different direction. The crime could serve as the basis of the story or a peripheral scene.


How can you use a traumatic injury or an inspiring win in your fiction? What character qualities do you see in sports figures that you can incorporate into your characters? What sport do you follow? How can you build a story around it?

National Disasters and War

How can your characters deal with the aftermath of 9/11; an earthquake, hurricane, blizzard, or tornado; or the financial meltdown? How does it change them? How does it change their family? How do your characters live through these events?

How do your characters live through the war? Face life with a major injury? Come home from the battlefield? Deal with the horrors of war? Rebuild a normal family life after the military member returns home?

Politics and Espionage

The political arena offers countless avenues for ideas, from elections to issues. Can you create a love story between political rivals? What about a murder mystery? How can you create a story around the global warming issue or the abortion issue?

Tom Clancy weaves intriguing stories based on espionage. How can you create unique stories in this arena? The war on terror? Drug cartels? Israel?

Feel-Good Stories

Most news sources will give you a story that’s uplifting. How can you create fiction inspired by those stories? What fiction ideas can you glean from a story about a woman who turns 100? The rescue of an animal from a chunk of ice? A child who collects money for the poor?

The next time you see a news story, let your imagination go. You may find characters and stories that will help you create readable and appealing fiction.

© Deborah Christensen


Posted on December 14, 2011, in writing, writing ideas and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: