Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written! – Get Story Ideas from History


Welcome back to, Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written! By Stuart White

Stuart White

Stuart White

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Stuart continues his tips on how to decide…Where do I get story ideas for my novel?


And aside from asking yourself ‘what if?’ to generate story ideas – there’s history. History is littered with amazing vignettes that can yield incredible potential novels.

An example from my own writing career

I once read a non-fiction book called Bodyguard of Lies by Anthony Cave Brown. In it I read that in 1940 the British authorities had been seriously concerned about a Nazi plot to kidnap Princesses Elizabeth (later to be Queen of England) and her sister Margaret, as an engine of blackmail.

In the same book I read an intriguing story about two German agents who had died mysteriously, one in England, one in New York. It was thought the latter had been killed by British agents.

The two things began to spark off each other like those electrical machines in a mad scientist’s 19th century lab. A royal kidnap; two mysteriously dead Germans. To pursue the mad scientist analogy I put the ideas in a beaker, stirred them, added a pinch of cogitation, a soupcon of imagination, stirred vigorously, let bake at Gas Mark 7, and eventually came up with a novel idea.

Operation Raven.

One spy comes to kidnap the Princesses. The other – with Hitler’s permission – was helping track the man, who had – I ventured – killed the second agent’s sister. And I wrote it and my agent sold it in America, Britain, Japan, Turkey and also got it serialised in what was then a Yugoslavian newspaper. It’s now an optioned film script called, ‘To Kill a Queen.’

 And to show what a treasure trove of novels that non-fiction tome Bodyguard of Lives was – well, listen to this.

 Best-selling author Ken Follett wrote a thriller called The Key to Rebecca, about a WW2 German spy who came into Cairo from the desert on a camel, befriended a belly-dancer who then seduced a British officer on a Nile houseboat to get his secret code-books.

Come back Monday next week and Stuart will continue his series on how to get inspired by history. SIGN UP for the blog newsletter so you don’g miss a single post!

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I'm a stay-at-home mom writer and blogger. Writing my novel!

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