I can’t resist a news story that starts like this:
High in the skies over Kazakhstan, space-age technology has revealed an ancient mystery on the ground.
Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old.
I love the specific, quirky details:
- The search that led to the discovery was inspired by a Discovery Channel program, “Pyramids, Mummies and Tombs.”
- The earthworks were spotted using Google Earth.
- The discovery was made by Dmitriy Dey, described as a Kazakh economist and archaeology enthusiast. (All the best stories about the discovery of Ancient and Mysterious Ruins start with an “amateur enthusiast,” don’t they?)
And this is the kicker:
The so-called Steppe Geoglyphs remain deeply puzzling and largely unknown to the outside world.
That leaves plenty of room for a writer’s imagination to fill in the blanks….
I love reading about long-lost ruins, abandoned buildings, and rare manuscripts discovered in dusty libraries. If that strikes a chord with you, too, you probably already know that news stories tend to be tantalizing and frustrating in equal measure.
So the rare document was found — what happened next? So someone stumbled upon an abandoned building — who lived there and why was it abandoned?
Fortunately, the frustration doesn’t last long, because you can always make up the rest of the story if you want to. Like this:
- Find a news item about a recent historical find that intrigues you. (It may be a short item with very few details. That’s great — more room for your imagination to move around.)
- Start playing around with the basic facts by asking “what if?”
- Stick close to the facts of the story or roam far afield — your choice!
Here are a few items that recently caught my eye. Perhaps they’ll strike a spark with you…
Haunting chalkboard drawings, frozen in time for 100 years, discovered in Oklahoma school
Hiker discovers abandoned town inside Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Paul Revere’s work found in Brown’s rare book room