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30 Story Prompts Based On True Events

Story Prompts Based on True Events

Ever feel like real life is way crazier than anything you could dream up?

Breakups that belong in a soap opera, mysteries that would stump Sherlock Holmes – the world’s full of stories wilder than fiction.

Why not tap into that real-life drama for your next piece?

It adds a layer of “wait, that actually happened?” to your writing, and leaves readers wondering where the truth ends and the story begins.

Here are some story prompts inspired by bonkers true events.

Let reality be your muse and write something amazing!

Story Prompts Based On True Events

  1. The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart: In 1937, Amelia Earhart, one of the world’s most famous aviators, embarked on an ambitious flight to circumnavigate the globe. However, during her journey, she and her plane mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean, sparking numerous theories and investigations about what could’ve happened. Compose a narrative that delves deep into an imaginative theory of Amelia’s last hours.

  2. The Chernobyl Disaster: In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Soviet Union experienced a catastrophic explosion, releasing massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment. The event was a pivotal moment in nuclear energy history, causing immediate deaths, long-term health issues, and displacement of thousands. Develop a story from the perspective of a scientist who discovers an unexpected side effect of the radiation decades later.

  3. The Miracle of the Andes: In 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed into the Andes mountains, with 45 people on board. Stranded in freezing temperatures with little supplies, survivors faced extreme conditions and made agonizing decisions to stay alive. Craft a heartfelt letter from one survivor to a loved one, detailing their experiences and emotions during the ordeal.

  4. The Apollo 13 Crisis: During the third manned mission to the Moon in 1970, Apollo 13 experienced a critical failure due to an oxygen tank explosion. The astronauts onboard faced life-threatening challenges as they, together with NASA, devised a plan to safely return to Earth. Describe the internal thoughts and fears of one astronaut as they navigate this near-death experience in space.

  5. The Lost City of Pompeii: In AD 79, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the Roman city of Pompeii under a thick layer of volcanic ash, preserving it for centuries. The city’s rediscovery provided unique insights into daily Roman life. Imagine a day in the life of a Pompeii resident just before the eruption, capturing the culture, routines, and looming disaster.

  6. The Sinking of the Titanic: The “unsinkable” RMS Titanic tragically struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912, leading to the deaths of more than 1,500 passengers and crew. The disaster has since become emblematic of human hubris and the unforeseen consequences of technological advancement. Craft a diary entry of a crew member, reflecting on the moments leading up to the ship’s sinking.

  7. The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall: Constructed in 1961, the Berlin Wall separated East and West Berlin, both symbolically and physically, for 28 years. Its fall in 1989 was a monumental moment in world history, marking the decline of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War era. Narrate the experience of a family reunion on the day the wall came down.

  8. The Hindenburg Disaster: In 1937, the German airship Hindenburg met a fiery end when it attempted to dock in New Jersey. The disaster was widely publicized and marked the end of the era of passenger airship travel. Write a sequence of events as witnessed by a journalist who was on the ground, capturing the hope, excitement, and ultimate tragedy of the event.

  9. The Salem Witch Trials: In the late 17th century in Massachusetts, fear and hysteria led to the accusations, trials, and executions of numerous individuals, predominantly women, for alleged witchcraft. These events reflect dark aspects of human behavior, such as mass hysteria and the consequences of unchecked religious fervor. Pen a letter from an accused individual to their family, professing their innocence and conveying the terror of the situation.

  10. The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic: The world was gripped by a deadly influenza pandemic in 1918, infecting about a third of the global population and causing millions of deaths. The spread of the disease was exacerbated by the movement of troops during World War I. Describe a day in a bustling city at the height of the outbreak, focusing on the public’s reaction and personal stories of resilience.

  11. The Moon Landing of Apollo 11: In 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins embarked on a historic mission to land on the Moon. Armstrong’s first steps and famous words became iconic moments in human history. Write a conversation between the astronauts the night before their landing, capturing their hopes, fears, and the weight of their journey.

  12. The Great Fire of London: In 1666, a small fire that began in a baker’s shop quickly spread, devastating much of London. The fire reshaped the city and had profound implications for urban planning and fire safety in the years that followed. Recount the harrowing escape of a family from their home, detailing their journey through the blazing city.

  13. Gandhi’s Salt March: In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi led thousands on a 240-mile march to the Arabian Sea to protest the British monopoly on salt in India. This non-violent act of civil disobedience played a crucial role in the Indian independence movement. Describe the thoughts and reflections of a young participant during the march, inspired by Gandhi’s teachings.

  14. The Disastrous Donner Party: In the winter of 1846-47, a group of American pioneers known as the Donner Party became trapped by snowfall while trying to cross the Sierra Nevada. Facing starvation, the survivors resorted to desperate measures to stay alive. Compose a series of diary entries from a member of the party, chronicling their hopes, struggles, and the moral dilemmas they faced.

  15. The Discovery of the Rosetta Stone: In 1799, during Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, a stone slab with inscriptions in three scripts was discovered. This Rosetta Stone became the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Imagine the excitement and anticipation of a linguist who gets their first glimpse of the stone, realizing its potential to unlock ancient secrets.

  16. The Explosion of Mount Tambora: In 1815, the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia was one of the most powerful in recorded history. The following year, known as the “Year Without a Summer,” saw global temperature drops, crop failures, and widespread famine. Detail the experiences of a farmer and their family as they grapple with the unexpected and profound climatic changes.

  17. The Underground Railroad: Throughout the 19th century, the Underground Railroad was a covert network of safe houses and routes that assisted African American slaves in escaping to freedom. Harriet Tubman, a former slave herself, famously led numerous missions to rescue those in bondage. Recount the journey of a young runaway slave, experiencing the perilous path to freedom and the kindness of strangers.

  18. The Battle of Thermopylae: In 480 BC, a small Greek force led by King Leonidas of Sparta made a legendary stand against the massive Persian army at Thermopylae. Their bravery highlighted the Greeks’ resolve to defend their lands against overwhelming odds. Craft a soldier’s letter home, depicting the fierce battle and the emotion of facing near-certain death.

  19. The Eruption of Krakatoa: In 1883, the volcanic island of Krakatoa erupted with a force so powerful it was heard 3,000 miles away. The explosion and subsequent tsunamis resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Describe the perspective of a sailor witnessing the eruption from their ship, emphasizing the awe and terror of nature’s fury.

  20. The First Flight of the Wright Brothers: On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight in North Carolina. This moment marked the dawn of a new era in transportation and human capability. Capture the excitement and trepidation of onlookers witnessing this revolutionary moment in history.

  21. The Tragedy of Pompeii’s Twin, Herculaneum: Just like Pompeii, the ancient Roman town of Herculaneum was also buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was engulfed by pyroclastic surges, preserving organic materials like wood and even food. Reimagine the final feast of a Herculaneum family, unaware that it would be their last.

  22. The Great San Francisco Earthquake: In 1906, a massive earthquake struck San Francisco, causing widespread devastation. Fires that broke out subsequently added to the city’s destruction. Over 3,000 people died, and over half of the city’s population was left homeless. Narrate the survival story of a journalist navigating the ruins to document the tragedy and human resilience.

  23. The Signing of the Magna Carta: In 1215, King John of England was compelled by his rebellious barons to sign the Magna Carta, a document that limited the king’s powers and is often seen as a precursor to constitutional governance. Delve into the heated negotiations leading up to this historic event, capturing the political intrigue and the fight for rights.

  24. The Voyage of the Beagle: From 1831 to 1836, Charles Darwin journeyed aboard the HMS Beagle, visiting various parts of the world. This voyage played a crucial role in the formulation of his theory of evolution by natural selection. Chronicle a series of journal entries from Darwin’s perspective, detailing his observations and growing understanding of the natural world.

  25. The Tunguska Event: In 1908, a massive explosion occurred near the Tunguska River in Russia, flattening an estimated 2,000 square kilometers of Siberian forest. Believed to be caused by the airburst of a small asteroid or comet, it is the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history to have occurred over land and to have left no crater. Explore the journey of a local researcher sent to investigate the phenomenon, encountering the devastation and mysteries first-hand.

  26. The Execution of Joan of Arc: In 1431, the young French heroine Joan of Arc, who had played a pivotal role in the Hundred Years’ War, was burned at the stake after being captured by the English and tried for a variety of charges, including cross-dressing (she wore male military attire). Recreate the thoughts of a conflicted soldier, witnessing her execution and grappling with the legend and reality of Joan.

  27. The Building of the Panama Canal: Completed in 1914, this engineering marvel connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The creation of the canal was a colossal effort, facing geographic challenges, diseases like malaria and yellow fever, and significant loss of life. Write from the perspective of an engineer, documenting the daily struggles and triumphs of this monumental project.

  28. The Reign of Queen Elizabeth I: The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I ruled England during a time of significant cultural and political change, including the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Her reign saw the flourishing of the English Renaissance and the works of Shakespeare. Detail a secret meeting between the Queen and one of her spies, discussing threats to the crown and the future of England.

  29. The Gold Rush of 1849: After gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1848, tens of thousands of prospectors, known as ’49ers, flocked to the state in search of their fortunes, forever altering its landscape and demographics. Follow the tale of a hopeful prospector and his family as they embark on the treacherous journey westward, in pursuit of the California dream.

  30. The Fall of Constantinople: In 1453, after a 53-day siege, the capital of the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II. This event marked the end of the Byzantine Empire and the rise of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the final end of the Roman Empire in its eastern form. Narrate the experiences of a palace guard during the city’s last days, witnessing the end of an era and the dawn of a new one.
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