Besides one’s personal experience, another common source for story ideas is newspaper stories. A particularly good source for potential story ideas--or for inciting moments, at least--is the daily column, “Across the USA: News From Every State,” which appears in the national newspaper, USA Today. (Not all of the column’s items will serve a writer’s purpose, but several, with appropriate revisions, may well do so.)
The items are not, by any stretch of the imagination, complete; extremely truncated summaries, they are little more than headlines themselves. Still, in some cases, they are enough (with, occasionally, a bit of adjustment) to serve as germs of stories. Depending upon one’s genre, one can give a twist to the item of the writer’s choice so that the news item is transformed into a springboard for an action-adventure, a comedy, a crime, an espionage, a fantasy, a horror, a mystery, a romance, a science fiction, a Western story, or whatever. (Obviously, for horror fiction purposes, the news item would be given a horrific twist.)
Here, for example, are the first sentence or two of the items that appeared in the Tuesday, March 24, 2009 issue of USA Today’s “Across the USA” column that seem fruitful as germs for possible horror stories. (Our twists are in bold blue font, below the actual, quoted material):
Alaska: Workers at Denali National Park have begun clearing the park road. . . . Working seven days a week, a road crew usually needs six weeks to clear the entire 92-mile road into the park.
In clearing the 92-mile road through Denali National Park, Alaska workers were attacked by unidentified “monsters”; several of the workers were killed.
Arkansas: . . . Motorists in Arkansas may soon be able to drive the Johnny Cash Highway. Mississippi County justices have set a vote for today to rename Arkansas 297 near Dyess, where the late singer was raised.
Motorists in Wisconsin may soon be able to drive the Ed Gein Highway. Officials have outraged local citizens by setting a vote to rename Interstate Highway 39 near Plainfield Cemetery, from which the notorious killer robbed graves.
Idaho: A state lawmaker wants horse slaughterhouses to operate again in the U. S. to deal with the glut of unwanted horses as a result of the recession.
A state lawmaker wants human slaughterhouses to operate in the U. S. to deal with the glut of babies’ cadavers that have resulted from recession-related infanticide.
Kentucky: The U. S. Mine Safety and Health Administration closed a coal mine in Mousie because of unpaid fines.
The U. S. Mine Safety and Health Administration closed a coal mine in Mousie because of safety issues stemming from baffling cave-ins.
Louisiana: The search for a new director for LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center has begun.
The search for a new director for LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center has begun. The selected candidate will direct the Center’s clandestine research in genetic engineering.
Maine: A pair of Coast Guard cutters are chugging up Maine’s
Kennebec River, breaking up ice that could otherwise contribute to
A pair of Coast Guard cutters, chugging up Maine’s Kennebec River to break up ice that could otherwise contribute to flooding, encountered a strange creature that is said to resemble the legendary Sasquatch.
Pennsylvania: Surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center transplanted the right hand of a Marine hurt in a training accident.
This item could be used as is, perhaps with the Marine and the transplanted hand struggling against mutual attempts to reject the tissues represented by one another. Another possibility that occurred, based upon misreading “hand” as “head” might be: Surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center transplanted the right head of a Marine hurt in a training accident. (Perhaps bicephalic Marines are the military’s latest innovation in regard to the service’s elite warriors.)
Indiana: Anderson University officials are considering disciplining about 25 students who protested the school’s anti-alcohol policy by going to a bar.
University officials are considering disciplining about 25 students who protested the school’s use of animals in scientific experiments by releasing human-animal hybrids, or “humanimals,” from the cages in which experimenters keep them.
South Carolina: A College of Charleston study shows that tourism here took a $40 million hit last year because of the recession.
South Carolina’s tourism industry took a $40 million hit last year because of the rumors of a “monster” that stalks the state’s beaches.
Utah: A book by Thomas Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the final item added to a time capsule to be sealed inside the wall of a new church history library.
A copy of The Satanic Bible was included in a time capsule to be sealed inside the foundation of a new church.