Using a real incident, from your own life, or something observed, as inspiration is a device many if not most writers use. Changing the names, the gender, the situation, the relationships… this is a device which can get you writing when you mind seems empty.

Here is a true story, retold by Lois Elsden:

Tirpitz and his new car

This a true story, but the names and some of the details have been changed to protect the guilty!

Raymond was a lovely man, a true gentleman, very kind, very helpful, the nicest guy you could ever meet… but he was soooo boring! He really could bore for England; he was nick-named Tirpitz after the German Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, why he acquired the name is another story.

Tirpitz was a very precise and particular man, as you might imagine; he was a reliable colleague, utterly trustworthy, a happy and devoted husband and father. At lunch time it was inevitable that he would join a conversation and soon everyone would be almost comatose with boredom as he went on, and on, and on, and on… He got a new car, and being the man he was he kept a record of every gallon of petrol he put in the car, how much it cost and how many miles per gallon the car could do.

Many a lunchtime was taken up with the latest mileage of Tirpitz spotless car. Alf and Neville who were in the same department as Turpitz had to listen to his stories before work, at coffee break as well as lunchtimes and in the sitting about time after work when everyone relaxed and chatted.

One day, Tirpitz was most exited… his car had over the last week done ten extra miles per gallon! It must be his careful driving (he was an advanced driver… but that again is another story) The following week Alf asked him about the car and its mpg… great news! Tirpitz’s careful driving, not accelerating too quickly, keeping the windows shut at all time, checking the tyre pressure regularly, had all given him another extra 8mpg!

The following week, by combining journeys so he made fewer trips, by coming to work earlier so he avoided the rush hour he had added another 3mpg!!!

I cannot tell you the end of the tale, I don’t know how the story finished… but I will tell you that Tirpitz did not have a lockable cap on his fuel tank, and I will also tell you that when they had a spare moment, Alf and Neville would nip out, take out the gallon can of petrol Alf had in his car and pour some into Tirpitz car. You have heard of syphoning out petrol, this was syphoning it in!

©Lois Elsden 2016

Lois’s books are available here:



4 thoughts on “Ending it all

    • Yes, you are right! It’s absolutely true apart from the name changes, but if i were going to use it as a story, i would just take the bare bones of it – and maybe even rearrange those bones and come up with a completely different animal! I did this with one of my novels, where I took the story of a real person and changed it, and it became a novel – my main character was a policeman not a sportsman, his betrayal was romantic not financial and he was basically an honourable man who made a mistake, not a crook pretending to be an honourable man.


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