Suspend Your Disbelief

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Get Writing: Resurrecting Elvis

This week’s challenge: take a tabloid headline—the wackier, the better—and write a short story taking the headline completely seriously.

For example, you might check the Weekly World News‘s website or search for images of its front page (as it’s sadly no longer being printed).

Or you might sift through the News of the Weird or the pages of the National Enquirer for inspiration, or spend some quality time perusing publications in the grocery-store checkout line. (Hey, it’s research!)

Here are a couple more to get you started:

But remember, your story should treat the headline seriously. Often, tabloid stories get at some of our most basic fears and desires, and this exercise lets you mine those fears and desires while having fun.

For inspiration, check out Robert Olen Butler’s “Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot,” or any of the stories in his collection Tabloid Dreams. And I’ll give you this anecdotal encouragement, too: I once gave this exercise to my fiction students, and a student wrote a story called “Idaho Family Eats Indigenous Bigfoot Tribe,” which in its completed form won the 2010 William Richey Short Fiction Contest. (Congratulations, Aaron!)

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