This might seem like a silly question but is it ok to use a news story for the basis of a novel? The story in question is about 3 particular non-celebrity teenagers. I'm fascinated by what happened and would like to write a fictional account of the events that might have led to the incident but I don't want to infringe on anyone's rights obviously.
Never a silly question! There are no silly questions, just questions that aggravate me. This, however, is not a question that aggravates me. It’s a great question.
You can get your ideas from anywhere you want. I think news stories are probably the basis of more novels than I can count, just like other novels are the basis for novels. As are music lyrics, actual life events, dreams, brilliant agents, and your mom’s bedtime stories.
To be honest with you, when it comes to a great idea, it’s not the idea or where it came from that really matters, it’s what you do with it. I wish I knew how many times I read an article, saw a news story or read a book and had an “aha” moment. Ask my authors. I’m regularly taking notes on “brilliant” (I use that word loosely) ideas and shipping them off to my clients for execution.
Being fascinated is the first step to creating a great story. As long as you’re not using actual names, details, etc. In other words, as long as you’re fictionalizing the story you can do whatever you want with it. That’s the beauty of fiction.