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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, August 04, 2008

Getting Stories from the News

I get lots of story ideas from the news media. Radio, television, newspapers, online news forums...inspiration can strike from a headline, blurb, or full story in any of these formats. For instance, let's take this headline:

"Town spends $1 million to buy, close strip club" from the Associated Press.

What ideas might a headline like this spark? Your hero is the town mayor who comes up with the plan and the heroine owns the club? Or maybe she's a dancer with a child to support and all of a sudden she's out of work, thanks to the hero? Maybe he'll offer her a job in his company, or as his housekeeper. Or if you write thrillers, maybe the club owner is murdered and the money goes missing? Who did it?

Or how about this one?

I watched a show a while back about identical twins who were adopted out separately, and went to homes just one town apart. The women just found out about each other recently and met for the first time. They're so much alike it's uncanny, and they were both hysterical when they opened the small gift each of them brought the other--and found they'd brought the exact same thing.

Can you picture a story where a husband thinks his wife is cheating on him because he sees her going into a hotel with another man--and it turns out it's his wife's twin she didn't know she had?

Here are some headlines/ news story beginnings from past news stories. Post a comment about what kind of story you might make out of one of these:

1. Bone marrow donors risk DNA identity mix-up

2. 31 missing tourists tied to al-Qaida ally. Europeans mysteriously disappeared
while trekking across Sahara Desert

3. Amid the traffic and bright lights, love grows from the back seat of a cab.
Cab driver runs matchmaking service for his lonely passengers out of his cab.

4. Courses promise to turn shy virgins into red hot lovers. A Dutch company is offering courses to turn shy male virgins into red hot lovers for £2,500.

One word of caution. If you saw it/read it on the news, so did someone else. You'll have to be quick to write your book and get it out there.

So turn on the news, but have your pad and pen ready!



At 9:15 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Great topic! Another way to use newspapers is for historical research. I used newspaper archives to read accounts of an 1893 hurricane for a historical romance I wrote.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Great idea, mo h! I've searched online newspapers when I needed details, such as when my heroine mentioned her parents had died during a blizzard, I went looking for a really bad blizzard around 1993, then used that to determine where her parents lived.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Barbara said...


As a former reporter, I love to find stories from the news. It's a great idea and I am glad you brought it up.

Number 4 jumped out at me because I am working on something along those lines. Except, it is a very shy young women who thinks she is being sent to a class to help out a friend. It turns out her friend tricked her into the class to help her get over her overwhelming shyness.

I could also see #4 as a great erotica story. Mine is not erotica.

I could see #3 as a story where the cab driver finds his true love, but he's forced to play matchmaker for her. Maybe there's a communication gap because he's from another country? Just a thought.

Thanks for the post.


At 10:17 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Barbara, that just shows how two people could read the same headline and come up with two very different stories. Since I tend to write toward the sexier end of the spectrum, my book would be totally different. Yours sounds like a great idea!

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the second one. The crime and punishment news often has stranger, (and creepier), stories great for inspiring intrigue and suspense. I can imagine alien abduction, an elaborate escape from another country, or the one guy out of thirty who has no idea what's going on.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I'm impressed, Tori!
You have a great eye for the headline that sparks a story idea.

My next book was sparked by the media frenzy around celebrities. I thought, what would it be like if a Regency lady were the victim of the Regency equivalent of the paparazzi?
Scandalizing the Ton is the result!!

I have an excerpt up at

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Theresa said...

These are great ideas, Tori! #1 really intrigues me. I'm going to grab my newspaper right now and skim over it to see what I can find. Thanks for the great reminder to use stories right in front of us for inspiration!

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Glad you guys found this helpful. I'm a news junkie. Should have been a reporter in my younger days.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Everybody please note that Tori's debut book, Double Exposure, is out RIGHT NOW!!

And you HAVE to go look at the cover!

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Thanks Diane! I love that cover. Just like I'm still in love with Gabe, the hero in Double Exposure.

Have you ever had a story that just didn't let go once it was finished?

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Tori, huge congratulations! I didn't realize today was your release day. :)

This was a fun exercise. I love idea #2, it makes me think paranormal...but many of my ideas come from the history channel or National Geographic magazine, sense I mostly think Historical.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Good idea, Gillian! I'll admit to a few inspired ideas from television shows too. I think one of the Noodlers will be posting on that topic this month, so stay tuned....


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