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Finding Inspiration from Dead Fish and Birds

A former teacher of mine once told me that if you’re looking for inspiration, try reading the newspaper.

In that spirit, this CNN article caught my eye over the weekend. It describes how over 5000 blackbirds were suddenly found dead–which reminded me of the events described in FlashForward (the TV show, not the book).

Not long after, another article appeared, describing how over 100,000 fish were discovered floating in a river only a hundred miles away.

The experts say that these two events are unrelated.

As a writer, I ask, “What if they’re not?”

Already I have dozens of ideas floating through my head on possible storylines stemming from this:

  • Pollution from a chemical plant is killing off wildlife
  • Something is poisoning the water, killing both fish and birds
  • Someone poisoned the fish, which then killed off the birds when they came to feed
  • A meteor crashes in a nearby lake that releases a deadly amoeba-like creature into the water

I’m sure you get the picture.  Dozens of scenarios could have caused these events, or these things could foreshadow other dire things to come.

I don’t think I’ll write a story on this one (in a large part because I have other works in progress), but I think this illustrates how easy it is to use real-life events to inspire new story ideas.

What news stories have you seen lately that you think would make good fiction?  Are you using it in one of your current projects?

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