On Monday, Thomas Curran wrote this post on the Type M for Murder blog about how reality can be stranger than fiction. Those strange realities can be great fodder for our stories, if we open our minds to the possibilities.
I went through my local newspaper and went looking for articles that caught my attention. Things that I could add to my story idea file. Just today, an article caught my eye. A brilliant man in an Idaho prison managed to commit financial fraud to the tune of $64,000 from his prison cell by faking legal letters and sending them out to take advantage of class action lawsuits against major corporations. A career criminal, he managed to secure a lot of money just by exploiting a loophole in the prison mail system where letters with attorneys aren't screened because of lawyer/client confidentiality.
At face value, it's not much to work with. But what if I took that story and added my own twist to it? What if, instead of putting the funds in an investment portfolio, he was sending it to his sick mother who couldn't afford her medical bills? What would the repercussions be when the authorities caught him then? What if he'd never been caught? How high would his money have climbed? What could he have done with all that money from behind bars? All these questions can lead to a germ of a story idea.
Another thing caught my eye. I have never seen a house go for more than $1 million dollars in Boise, at least that I can recall. I'm sure there have been houses that went for that. I just never paid any attention to them. But this one caught my eye. A 7 car garage? 5 bedrooms? 5 bathrooms? Who would live in such a grand house? What would they be like? What secrets might be told in such a palatial residence here in a little podunk state like Idaho? I must know. Since I can't know, I might just write a story about a house like this and the secrets the walls could tell about the wealthy family living in it.
Anything can be inspiration. You just have to open your mind to it.