Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: Embellishing Headlines for Plotlines

Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was invited to speak to the US Congress but not at the invitation of President Obama.  Change the names and the circumstances, and you've got yourself a plot for a novel.
Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was invited to speak to the US Congress but not at the invitation of President Obama. Change the names and the circumstances, throw in a little intrigue, and you’ve got yourself a plot for a novel.

I am currently in the middle of writing the first installment of a science-fiction series I have called “The Five Rims”, the first book in the installment titled “The Last Terran”.

The first book is a mystery novel at its core, set in a far-flung future universe where humans are not the saviors but the deposed conquerors. And yet it is a mystery novel. I had been wracking my brain about the mystery plot, even though I had created over 15K words of backstory about the environment, history and cultures of alien races.  It had to be good.  It had to be engaging and a great thrill ride for the reader.

One day while driving to town I heard a foreign news story that intrigued me. Turns out there is a real life mystery going on in a country which shall not be named that is perfect for a mystery novel.  It is rife with government intrigue, an unsolved murder, a public protest, a deep-seated government conspiracy and a host of other plot points too numerous to mention. I determined that if Law and Order can rip their plots from headlines then why can’t I?

Of course I’ve re-cast the mystery plot in my fictional science-fiction universe, tweaked it a little to fit the political climate in the world of the novel, but I couldn’t write a plot more original than what is going on in real life.

My advice today is that if you are stuck with a plot for a novel but you have the “world” created, your plot idea or at least a germ of the idea is as close as a google search for news stories.  When I read the five or six articles about this particular news story I sat with pen in hand jotting down the outline for the mystery plot and how my main character was going to get mixed up in the middle of it.  It didn’t take long before I had my entire plot outlined.

If you are stuck, by all means search the news.  You never know what you’ll find out there.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

3 thoughts on “Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: Embellishing Headlines for Plotlines

  1. Heretofore is an adverb, not an adjective. Typo: A “deep-seated government conspiracy” is what you meant to write. “Deep-seeded” is incorrect.

      1. Good job! It’s great to know these blogs can be edited (in case I ever write one.) ( Antihistamines sound good right now. Yeow, allergy season is here!)

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