Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fun with the news

So last year I did a post about getting book ideas from various places, including news stories. Now I'm in the mood to play again. I’m not going to use any of these. I just like to show how you can play the “what if” game with daily headlines. So let’s get some book ideas from the news!

These are all stories from today only!

Attack of the Killer Fungi
Summary: A killer fungus is posing a rising threat and worrying scientists. It is killing amphibians, bats, sea turtles, coral, and bee colonies. And it's threatening humans by attacking crops.

Ideas: Okay, clearly we have the beginning of an apocalyptic novel here, or the backstory of a dystopian. You could also have an environmental thriller if a government/crazy scientist created the fungus on purpose and the “good guys” are in a race to find a way to stop it before it spreads. Or even a military/terrorism thriller. These are always more interesting when the basis is true science.

Newborn Alive After Being Declared Dead
Summary: A newborn baby in Argentina was found alive in the morgue 12 hours after being declared dead.

Okay, there are lots of directions you can take with this one.

Paranormal/horror: The baby is a (changeling/vampire/something new), but the parents see only a miracle. Or the mother made a “deal” to save her baby, but as the baby grows up the child is evil/taken back/etc.

Contemporary: A morgue worker has always wanted a baby of her own. She lives a lonely life, she’s gone past childbearing age, and has given up hope. But then one day she hears a cry. A baby the doctors had declared dead is actually alive. She could walk right out with it and no one would ever know the baby had lived. She could raise the baby as her own...

Suspense: The contemporary story above except the mother always felt in her heart that her baby hadn’t died. And one day she sees a child who looks just like her younger self. She begins to research that day in the hospital and realizes her baby may be alive after all…

Author's Fictional Titan
Summary: Fourteen years before the Titanic sank, an author wrote a novella about a ship named Titan that was hailed unsinkable, but sank after striking an iceberg in mid-April.

This has been played with before in various ways (Early Edition, Stranger Than Fiction) but immediately some ideas come to mind.

Paranormal: A writer predicts the future in his books. First, only small events. Then one day he writes about (big scary incident). No one believes him except (the ex-wife he still loves/the best friend he knows will die/a beautiful rogue cop/etc.). And together they must figure out if the future can be changed and how.

Horror: A writer who can make things happen by first writing them takes revenge on his enemies. The death scenes could be really creative!

You could even do a contemporary spin on this for a comedy or romance.

British Man Allegedly Fathered 600 children Through Sperm Bank Donations.
First, eww. Now, on to some ideas.

Contemporary: There are many tales here—search for siblings, true love thwarted by unintended incest (eww, but hey, just brainstorming).

Sci-Fi/Horror: What if unintended incest caused a gene mutation?

Paranormal: The man had a “gift” (paranormal being, psychic ability) that was now spreading through his broad fathering of children.


I just wrote this post up in about ten minutes after reading the morning news, so clearly most of the ideas are crap. But I think it's a great game. It stretches the writer muscle and gets the creative juices flowing. I recommend it. Read the news and let your writer brain have some fun!