Another way that us inspirational-surroundings-deficient writers can find ideas is from reading current and old media stories. The old adage that the truth is often way weirder than even the most hardcore fiction writer can think of holds true. There is some very whacky stuff out there – just think about Peter Madsen who murdered journalist Kim Wall and sank her body in his submarine. Can you get more surreal than that?! I heard Ian Rankin recount a tale of how his publisher had rejected something for being too implausible when in fact it was based directly on something that actually happened.
So, reading the news can be a great source of inspirational ideas. I love reading The Guardian on my phone and just clicking the little ‘Save for later’ button – I’ve got quite a library of articles there waiting for me to turn them into something for later. They might not form the whole of my story, but one thing I’ve found is that a crime story needs to be a lot more complicated than you think it does. Plots need to be detailed and intricate to be interesting and drive the reader on, so these stories might well form a sub-plot or a different angle to my main story.
Stories I currently have saved include:
The Church Warden who murdered the University Lecturer – this is straight out of an Agatha Christie novel I’m sure and it just seems completely alien to me that this kind of murder occurs in society today – it’s so old-fashioned.
The mother who hunts paedophiles in her spare time – what an interesting heroine to have. And of course, in a flawed crime writer’s world, I’m already thinking about what would happen if she missed her own daughter becoming a victim. Or, what if (there we go again, see!) if she crossed the very thin line of legality?
Life-changing typos – as we live in an increasingly digital world, the idea that a single keystroke can have a devestating impact on people’s lives is really alarming. Of course, there are positive impacts, but the story of the man whose IP address was wrongly identified as being that of a paedophile is really quite scary.
Now I’m thinking that those last two stories would make a really interesting tie-in – what if the vigilante mother is targetting the wrong man because of a tiny typographical slip? What would happen then?
Have you seen anything interesting in the media lately? Comment below.