Four writing prompts: Fear

Good stories center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise from overcoming one’s fears. Here are four writing prompts for stories that deal with the theme of fear.

Man vs. nature
Our main character is placed in an environment that he has a great fear of it. Perhaps it’s a jungle where he’s afraid of snakes or a yacht where he’s afraid of the ocean. Why does he have this fear? When a threatening situation arises (plane crashes in jungle, yacht stuck in a tropical storm), how does he survive these forces of nature and how does he overcome his fear?

Man vs. man
A man discovers he’s being spied on but has no idea why. Fearful of what might occur to him, he decides to learn why he is being followed, not through a direct confrontation but secretly, as he believes this is the only way to learn the truth. In doing so, he engages in a deadly cat and mouse game with the man spying on him.

Man vs. society
The main character introduces some act of social innovation and progress to a parochial conservative community. How do some community members oppose this progress? How do a few others accept and even come to advocate it, making the conservatives even more paranoid of the change?

Man vs. himself
Our main character hears strange noises in the night, but when he goes to investigate, cannot determine what they are. They noises continue, however. What if our main character comes to believe he is going insane? How does he arrive at this conclusion? What if the noises symbolize in the emotions that lead is to doubt ourselves?