Inspiration for a novel from newspapers

Inspiration for a Novel from Newspapers

Finding inspiration for a novel from newspapers can help writers start a novel. New writers sometime have problems knowing how to begin. How to find inspiration for a story or an idea for a plot are problems all authors face, but new authors more than most. This blog post offers advice on how to use newspapers and journals to kick-start your writing process.

Newspapers are a rich source of inspiration for anyone wanting to start writing a novel. In the UK there is a free daily newspaper called the ‘Metro‘, and the following examples were all taken from the Metro dated 23 April 2021. There is nothing special about the date, it just happened to be the date this post was written.

Imagine you have decided to write a novel, but don’t yet know what to write about or how to start. You are seeking inspiration, and pick up your local newspaper. The following are all initial paragraphs of articles as written on the above date.

Injured walker crawled down a 1,722ft mountain for four hours on his hands and knees after breaking his arm, leg and ribs in a fall. The unknown man is recovering in hospital after being spotted by a passer-by after a fall on Eagle Crag fell, in Borrowdale, Cumbria.

UK Metro 23 April 2021

Don’t you want to know who the man is? What was he doing up the mountain? Was he hiding something? Was he following someone? Did he fall or was he pushed? If he was pushed, will the person who pushed him follow him to hospital?

A Drug Lord was shot on his doorstep over a debt owed to an underworld crime queen known as ‘The Banker’ after detectives seized £20million of his drugs.

UK Metro 23 April 2021

When you think about the leader of a criminal gang, most people think about a man, but this was a crime queen. Not only that, but she has a nickname, the Banker. She presumably supplied money for drugs, but the drug runner was arrested and drugs seized before they were delivered. Instead of cutting her losses, she demanded her money back, and arranged for the drug dealer to be shot when he couldn’t pay. Don’t you want to know what happened next?

An autistic ‘gentle giant’ was shot dead because assassins avenging an earlier stabbing went to the wrong house, the Old Bailey heard.

UK Metro 23 April 2021

You could write a story about the shot man, his background, his family, his loves, and the consequences of his death. You could write a story about the killer, his background, his family, his loves, and the consequences of his mistake. You could even incorporate both viewpoints in a single book. Early Tom Clancy stories were often like this, alternate chapters telling the same story from two different viewpoints.

A missing Indonesian submarine with 53 crew on board may have sunk too deep to retrieve, rescuers fear. The diesel-powered KRI Nanggala 402 was taking part in a training exercise when it went missing on Wednesday. Oxygen on board is set to run out tomorrow.

UK Metro 23 April 2021

Probably an accident, but you never know. It could be espionage. It could be the first act in a global war. Who knows? The story could be developed in numerous different ways. You may know the submarine was found broken up, with all crew dead, a few days later, but what if it hadn’t been? Perhaps the submarine could have been stolen, and used in some future crime.

I have written all the above italics exactly as they appeared in the newspaper, and they would provide seeds for anyone wanting to develop a thriller or crime novel. Finding inspiration for a novel from newspapers will help with thrillers and mysteries, as newspapers tend not to headline the mundane. It’s the unusual and exciting things that sell papers, not the mundane, so they may not be the best source of ideas for a romance or science fiction.


Newspapers may be a rich source of thrilling stories, but if you want to start writing a novel in science fiction, romance, fantasy etc., you may need to turn to periodicals.

Science fiction writers would have found plenty to inspire them in the New Scientist Magazine dated 24 April 2021. Here are a few of the headlines from that issue with all the words in italics being taken verbatim:

A robotic elephant trunk that uses artificial intelligence to mimic some aspects of brains could lead to snake-like machines that roam and adapt to new tasks.

New Scientist Magazine 24 April 2021

Does that sentence not conjure up an image of snake-like artificial intelligence that gets out of control, lives under ground, then pops up to devour people? Scary or what?

A mobile, high-power microwave weapon can knock down a swarm of drones at once or pick a single drone out of a group with sniper-like precision.

New Scientist Magazine 24 April 2021

I can imagine this scene in a film!

For lovers of romance or family tragedies’, the UK Chat magazine dated 29 April 2021 contained articles beginning with the following sentences:

Heaving a crate of beer up the cellar steps, I knelt by the pub fridge to restock it. Amid the background buzz of drinkers, I heard a booming voice.

Chat magazine 29 April 2021

Don’t you want to know whose voice it was, why it was booming, and what it said?

Staggering barefoot through the scorching desert (name omitted) knew that time wasn’t on her side.

Chat magazine 29 April 2021

How did she end up in a desert, what happened to her shoes, and why is time running out?

Lifting the lid of a large bin at the back of a supermarket, my eyes fell on a tray of juicy grapes.

Chat magazine 29 April 2021

Is the person lifting the lid a shop worker or a shoplifter. If they are a shop worker, why didn’t they already know the grapes were there. If they are a shoplifter, why are they rummaging in a bin?

Everyone’s reading habits are different, but whatever your interest there will usually be a magazine to meet your need.

Most readers will pick a newspaper or magazine up and read to be informed, but as a potential author, you should read for an additional purpose. Read, and then allow your mind to fill in the future or the past. Newspapers and magazines rarely provide more than the headline, but you can train your mind to add all the missing details. It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong. It’s your mind. It’s your story. Get the seed from what you read, but grow that seed into a plant of your own choosing.

My hope is this blog page will encourage you in finding inspiration for a novel from newspapers and help kick-start you into writing a novel by seeing all the themes you come across every day without realising it. Another way of finding inspiration is to find inspiration for a novel from people.

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