Need Novel Fodder? Visit Snopes.

This summer our little community has been infested with earwigs.  These nasty looking critters don’t cause undue damage to humans or property regardless of what the urban legends purport.

Thanks to Urban Legends

Earwigs have a horrible reputation as murderous creatures.  They’re believed to sneak into a sleeping person’s ear and burrow into the brain, supposedly causing death or insanity.

While these insects look like a sci-fi movie gone wrong, the only harm they cause is a mild pinch when handled by humans.  The moral of the story is don’t believe everything you hear and don’t molest earwigs.

A quick online search can pull up hundreds of crazier than crazy stories.  As writers, we would be remiss in ignoring such fun and fascinating tales.  Their uses are plentiful. 

  1. We could have a character subscribe to an urban legend and act accordingly, creating quite the fun personality quirk.
  2. A firm belief in such odditities could ultimately save the day when everyone is ill prepared to deal with an unbelievable twist later in the story.
  3. What if the urban legend is true?  And nobody believes it except a few key characters?  Yeah, what if earwigs really did cause insanity, but that they’ve gotten smart?  Instead of hiding out in the ear, they pop in, cause damage and then slither away into the night?
  4. What if the urban legend isn’t really true, but everyone believes it? 
  5. Why not take a Snopes story and give it a twist?  Personally, I like the story of the robbers holding people up at snake point.  But what if the cops used snakes to flush out the robbers instead?

The world is full if infinite possibilities.  All we have to do is open our eyes to the possibilities.

Have you ever worked a myth into your manuscript?  If so, how?  How well do you research your information before typing it into your story? 

A quick look at can bust your chops with something you used to believe as gospel.  It can also be a great way to waste the afternoon.



13 responses to “Need Novel Fodder? Visit Snopes.

  1. Great idea! I love finding new resources. By the way, earwigs are murderers. . . in the garden! They will destroy new little plant starts overnight.

    • Oh yes, there is that. My coneflowers must have tasted mighty nice this spring. Between the rabbits and the earwig infestation, they are only about nine inches tall right now and have some pretty pathetic looking leaves!

      But at least the only insanity they cause is to the gardener and not some poor sleeping person…

  2. I kind of created my own mythology in Death’s Daughter – but I borrowed heavily from Greek/Roman and a few other established mythologies in the creation. Myths are something I don’t usually need to research because I’ve spent most my life reading the various myths, particularly the Greek and Egyptian myths.

    I love your comment that the world is full of infinite possibilities. There is always something out there to get you thinking about questions and strange possibilities. Thanks for sharing this post.

  3. We had huge infestations of earwigs a few years back. When you took the cover of the bbq hundreds of them would go scurrying! Definitely creepy!

    Urban legends are such fun – haven’t used one yet, but it would be fun to try 🙂

  4. I have to admit, this totally never occured to me. I’d love to give it a try though! What an intriguing idea.

    • Amkuska,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Check out snopes and see what intrigue it has to offer. I guarantee even the most hardened writer could find something to use.

  5. Oh my God! Cat- thank you, thank you, thank you for that! I actually believed that urban legend about the earwigs (I have no idea why, but they do look like they’re capable of rising up to their reputation) so reading this post was a big relief for me! 🙂
    I use a lot of old tales and myths in my stories… Since Istanbul is a very old city, (the history goes all the way back to the Byzantine times and the Ottoman Emperor) we have lots of old myths about old buildings… And we still believe we can predict our future from coffee grains! 🙂
    And I love using these myths & legends in my stories.

    • I’m glad I saved you from a terrifying earwig invasion! They do look nasty, but as long as you don’t play with them, they should leave you–and your ears–alone.

      I would like to know more about your Istanbul coffee grounds. History like that is so rich–both in truth and in belief.

  6. I did it several times in my last ms and hope to again, but then my last ms is based partially on history and partially on myth! I’ve never done a snopes style story – could be fun. 🙂 Thanks for the idea!

    • The stories are amazing and unbelievable. Like the woman who smuggled sixty some snakes into an airport in her bra. What the heck kind of cup was she wearing?

  7. Snopes is a great resource for checking out suspicious email “warnings,” but I’ve never just sat down and read it. I might, now, though! I like your idea of working one into a novel. 🙂

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