Thursday, May 29, 2014

History's Mysteries

Every time I come across an intriguing article I think has story potential, I save it in folder labeled “History’s Mysteries.”

As Dan Brown has proven with his DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, readers love a good thriller that sheds light on a piece of history that has intriguing possibilities.

There, among the real artifacts, are shades of unwritten historical gray that are fertile ground for writers. A good historical thriller prompts the reader to learn more about the details of the story it is based on.

I present a list of some mysteries that have intriguing potential.

1) The Portal to the Sun

According to this theory, magnetic portals exist between the earth and sun and every eight minutes or so we are connected by a magnetic cylinder as wide as the earth. What happens when the portal is open?

Strange Portal Connects Earth to Sun

2) The Divine Matrix

According to this theory, we are all part of a cellular web that forms a force field. Everything we do creates ripples in the web. In this web, telekinesis, telepathy, and remote viewing are possible. How was this web created? What happens if parts of it weaken and break? How could this web be utilized for good or evil?

The Divine Matrix: Bridging Time, Space, Miracles & Belief

3) Standing Stones in New England

Much is made of Stonehenge and other British megaliths, but America has its own share of standing stone sites: Mystery Hill, the Upton Cave, Calendar I, Calendar II, Gungywamp, and Druid’s Hill. How did they get there? Who made them? Are they portals to their European equivalents?

Evidence of Sophisticated, Ancient, Unknown Cultures in North America

4) The Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture

Why would a settlement burn their entire village once every 60 to 80 years? According to scholars, many of the settlements were reconstructed several times on top of earlier ones, preserving the shape and the orientation of the older buildings. Members of this culture belonged to tribal social groups, scattered over an area of southeast Europe encompassing territories in present-day Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture

5) Prince Henry Sinclair

Did Prince Henry Sinclair of Rosslyn Castle in Midlothian, Scotland visit America? Was he a Mason in search of a place to build a utopian society? What happened on his journey?

Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney

6) The Kensington Rune Stone

Is the rune stone real or fake? Did Nordic explorers use it as a marker to claim the land for their own? How did the members of the team die?

Kensington Runestone

7) Utopian Societies

The 1800s were rife with settlers in America forming various utopian societies. What were they like? What happened with each society? What worked? What failed? What was the final disposition?

8) Norse Gods

Aside from the comic book Thor, the Norse god myths are filled with passion and violence and larger than life personalities. Stripped of the comic-book factor, inbued with humanity (with or without the paranormal aspect), they would make worthy heroes and villains.

9) The Tuatha de Dannan of Ireland.

The mysterious tribe arrived in Ireland "in dark clouds" and "brought a darkness over the sun for three days and three nights". Who were they? How did they change things? There are mentions of other tribes around the word with similar names. Are they connected?

10) The melungeons of the Appalachian Mountains.

I stumbled upon this unique group during the research for my family geneaology. Who were these mysterious people? Where did they come from? What happened to them? How did they end up in the mountains? Were they hiding? If so, from whom?


I will never get around to writing about these historical mysteries. I would, however, love to see them brought to living color with casts of conflicted characters.

If these nuggets don't ignite a spark of inspiration, make your own list of story seeds and see what germinates.

Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. What terrific prompts and resources, Diana. What you mention here is really not much different from what many mystery writers, myself included, do. We read about some unusual or unsolved crime and start playing the "what if" game. In my opinion, story always has its genesis in reality. Even fantasy and sci fi can often be connected thematically to reality.

    1. My file is too thick. So many cool stories to choose from. It's why I don't understand why movie makers keep on with the retreads. :)

  2. You're definitely right about the Melungeons being fascinating, Diana. They play a central role in my new historical mystery-thriller, The Virgin of the Wind Rose.

  3. Great post, Diana! If these prompts don't spur the curiosity and get the creative juices flowing, I don't know what will.

    I recall hearing about New Harmony, Indiana -- mentioned in one of the links you cited -- when I was growing up in Indianapolis. The stories made me curious, but not enough to do any serious research then. Now this inquisitive mind wants to know.

    I remember being told back in the fifties that New Harmony was founded on the principles of pure communism (not to be confused with the totalitarian governments that came to be known as "communist"). A few moments ago, I did find one reference alluding to it's being "a communal society"; but for the most part, it is listed as a "utopian" town. Interesting...back to the research.

    1. I think it would make a terrific setting. It could be a story about the challenges of building it or the reasons it fell apart.

  4. Thanks for this post, Diana! I often look to history for my mystery plot inspirations. More to ponder...

    1. There are so many interesting places to explore. Mystery writers should never run out of settings. :)

  5. I'll share this one with you. There was a species of dinosaur called the troodon (pronounced TRUE-o-don) that apparently had a highly sophisticated brain. If it hadn't gone extinct, some scientists believe it would have evolved into a creature with human-like intelligence. I remember watching a documentary about them that speculated on what the world might be like if Homo sapiens and "Troodon sapiens" coexisted.

    1. They could explore that in Juraissic Park #I've lost count. :)

  6. I cut things out of the paper and save them for future ideas. Sometimes you can get great book ideas just by listening to friends talk about something that happened or that they heard about.

  7. Urban legends and fairytales are big now. I have to thank all the horror writers for bringing our childhood nightmares to film. :)


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