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Matthew J. Trafford: Use the news

The author of The Divinity Gene on why—even if you're writing about an alternate universe—you should still look at a newspaper every once in a while.

"Most of us encounter the news every day, whether it’s through television, radio, newsprint, or online. If you’re ever stuck for a writing idea, the daily headlines can be a great source of inspiration: typos, ambiguous grammar, and the juxtaposition of articles and photos can often yield hilarious and unexpected results. Keep a notebook with you to jot down these gems when you encounter them. Beyond that, there are scientific advances every day that seem like they are already out of the pages of a speculative fiction novel—use them! Exaggerate them to the next logical step—or several illogical steps beyond where things already are. Remember, in both news and fiction it is the human stories of tragedy and triumph that engage readers the most. Let the real stories inspire you and then spin them into fiction." 

Matthew J. Trafford’s fiction has appeared in The Malahat Review and Matrix and has been anthologized in I.V. Lounge Nights and Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow. He has won the Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction and an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards and has twice been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Prize. He lives in Toronto, where he works with Deaf college students and performs long-form improv with his brother in their two-person troupe, The Bromos.

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