Four writing prompts: Masquerade

Good stories center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise from maintaining a persona or wearing a mask. Here are four writing prompts for stories that center on the theme of the masquerade.

Man vs. nature
The main character takes the place of another person (perhaps by pretending to be him) to ensure the latter is not captured or placed in a difficult situation. Our hero escapes but is ill-equipped to survive the wilderness he must make his way through (as eluding his former captors) to return home. What virtues does our hero possess that allows him to succeed?

Man vs. man
A new neighbor acts mysteriously, and our main character investigates. What secret does our main character discover? What does the neighbor do upon discovering he’s being investigated and when his secret is found out?

Man vs. society
A family is falling apart, as each member – perhaps one suffers from alcohol addiction, perhaps another is suffering from a forced reduction in pay during a company downsizing, perhaps another is seeing a therapist for depression – fights with one another. If there’s one thing they all agree upon, though, it’s that their problems and disagreements must be kept secret from others. Can such a façade be maintained, or is it the catalyst of their undoing?

Man vs. himself
Your main character, caught up in the events of some war, is coerced into committing an atrocity. Years later, how does he deal with his personal guilt for those horrors while at the same time keeping his culpability secret from others?