How To Use News in Your Fiction

As a contemporary fiction writer (my book takes place in December 2015, but that’s not entirely relevant), I’m constantly looking for inspiration. Because my book takes place in a time frame that’s so close to the present (Double Played takes place in the summer 0f 2016), I often find my mind drawn to one major source for inspiration: the news.

So today, I’m actually going to talk a little bit about Justice & Lies and how I’m using a big current event as research for a major subplot in my book.

Some background in the book (I’m going to be vague, but for good reason). In Justice & Lies there’s a character who is the victim of a domestic abuse. I know domestic abuse is a tough subject, and I want to make sure that I do my best to show it in a realistic light, especially since I’ve been lucky enough to never witness it first-hand.

How to Use New in your Fiction

So, how does this play into the national news right now? Well, maybe because it’s happening here in Texas, but a big news story right now is the story of Johnny Manziel and his ex-girlfriend. Here are a few stories that give more detail (Crime Blog – The Dallas Morning News, ESPN, and Reuters)  but in a nutshell, a few weeks ago they were in a bad fight that started in Dallas and ended in Fort Worth (Dallas and Fort Worth are about thirty miles apart, just for some perspective). His ex-girlfriend recently received a protective order against him, saying he hit her so hard that her eardrum was ruptured and she still can’t hear (or hear very well – not entirely sure of the details).

So, how does a football player and his distributing love life fit into my story? Well, it doesn’t really, but there are key things you can take from using the news as inspiration.

Pick Some Key Facts

In the instance of Manizel and his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, it took Crowley a few days to really come out and press her story. When the news first broke, Dallas PD said they weren’t investigating. A few days later, Crowley told the police more details of her story and they re-opened the case. This detail is something I find interesting, and while I don’t think I’ll use it in my story, it’s definitely one to consider: waiting before buy ativan pressing a story, the way she did. Pick one detail and find a way to weave it into your story – but make sure that it’s not so specific that it’ll only be attached to one news story. You want to pick something unique, but with universal appeal.

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In an instance with this story, the details seem to be pretty set – one testimony (unless Manizel comes out with a more detailed version of his side of the story – he’s just denied it), and most people seem to take it at face value. But if you’re going to take inspiration from a story, you need to know it inside and out. You’ll need to know where your plotline starts and where the real-life story ends.

Make it Your Own

This goes back to the other two notions – make the story your own. If I wanted to take a story where my character had an injury like Crowley’s where it was very specific, I wouldn’t go with a ruptured eardrum, but I would pick something similar. Maybe a black eye (at this point, I feel really weird talking about domestic violence as just a subplot of a book. Domestic violence is serious, without a doubt, and I don’t want my writing style to seem like a lack of emotion around the subject – I think it’s awful). 


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