Four writing prompts: Avoidance

Good stories center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise through their efforts to avoid something. Here are four writing prompts for stories that involve the motivation of avoidance.

Man vs. nature
On an important journey – perhaps to deliver a message, person or item – the main character hopes to avoid a naturally perilous area, such as a treacherous mountain range or an expansive badlands, due to its inhospitable conditions and dangerous animals and plants. Unfortunately for the main character, to complete his journey, he is forced to cross this area he hopes to avoid. How does he survive it? What virtues does he possess that allows him to survive? What lessons does he learn during his efforts?

Man vs. man
What if two people who don’t like one another are forced to live together? Perhaps it’s a married couple that has split, with one living upstairs and the other in the basement, or maybe it’s a stepparent and a teenage stepchild. How do the two avoid one another? What event must and internal changes in their thinking must occur to bring them together?

Man vs. society
Your main character witnesses something illegal. The power behind the illegal activity wants to shut up your main character before he reveals what he knows – except nobody believes him (unbeknown to the group behind the illegal activity) and he must search for more evidence to prove his claim so he may get the protection and help he needs.

Man vs. himself
To stay alive, the main character must defeat an evil character. The main character soon realizes, however, that to do this, he symbolically must make a bargain with the devil, something he hoped to avoid. What moral debates does he hold in his head as deciding whether or not to accept the bargain?