Oct 20, 2010

Plot Ideas from Headlines

This political news reads like a tragic romantic comedy

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, the month where crazy writers try to get 50,000 words on paper in just 4 weeks. As I've roped my whole family into attempting NaNoWriMo, we've been holding family writing workshops. Last night we brainstormed story ideas from news headlines.

I got this idea from Writing Excuses, they have the best podcasts on all aspects of writing fiction, so check them out.

These were some of the headlines we dug  up to use:
  • Road Rage: 9 ways to get your self-killed
  • Spy Anna Chapman at U.S.-Russia Rocket Launch
  • Dead Fish Tell Evolutionary Tales
  • Is Your Dog Pessimistic?
  • Building Rome on a Cloudless Day
  • New planet 'like earth', say astronomers
  • Teens die in horror road crash
  • Frozen in Icy Tomb - Arctic gives-up the secrets of Russia's lost adventurer
  • Child Bride Set Free
On our browser homepage I found some more today:

  • Violent Games Pose Threat to Young Boys
  • Cancer-causing Chemicals Found in Wells
  • Pig Hunter Wins New Zealand's Biggest Lotto Prize
We brainstormed around the table on each heading and came up with different story ideas. One example was:
Anna Chapman is not a human spy, but a computer chip in the Russian rocket. This launch is meant to be a test launch. BUT... The USA agenda has for some time been to start a war with a small oil-rich country, but their biggest fear is Russia will side against them, and they don't want to risk nuclear war. So... the chip in the rocket is designed to have the rocket 'accidentally' target that small country, sparking a war between the target and Russia, so that America can step in and back Russia up. This would make sure they were Allies. Only one down-and-out internet geek (let's call him 'Mike O'Sopht') unravels this conspiracy and the world now depends on his actions. 

Okay, this example is why I don't write political thrillers. But you get the idea, you take the headline and see which story ideas it prompts for you. How about you, can you come up with some new story ideas from these headlines?


  1. I thought just this thing last week when the Hasan trial started down here in Killeen. I read an article out of the Dallas Morning News that read like a novel, made the soldiers look steely-eyed and tough -- one soldier, a 6'8" bear sergeant, who got shot in the head and chest 5 times, stared at Hasan the whole time.

    It made the clerk girl who recorded the shooting on her phone sound fragile, a gentle civilian.

    This, of course, was the reality, but it is an incredible read.

    Wish I could find that article again... it's in the DMN from last week somewhere.

    - Eric

  2. It's a great idea to get story ideas from headlines! I love it :)

    Are you writing an outline for NaNo or just winging it from a basic idea?

  3. Brilliant idea; Some of those headlines are so unique~

  4. How interesting to intentionally go to headlines for ideas and then shake them up! And I love that you have your whole family doing this. Not ONE of mine would at this point (though I could see my daughter writing as an adult).

    I've seen stuff that works its way in, but haven't ever gone so far as to be deliberate about it.

  5. Headlines are a great way to think up a plot. Good luck with NaNoWriMo!