Four writing prompts: Finding meaning

Good stories center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise from seeking a life that is grander or purposeful. Here are four writing prompts for stories that center on finding meaning.

Man vs. nature
Our main character, attempting to make his life rise above the mediocre, decides to go on a great adventure that tests and proves his mettle (think John Mayer’s “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967”). How does he achieve his dream in spite of initial failure and the unexpected challenges nature throws at him? How does accomplishing this impossible task give his life meaning?

Man vs. society
Our protagonist struggles between deciding which is more fulfilling – a contemplative life or one of the flesh. How does society pull him toward one of the flesh? In following the ways of society, how much of his individuality must he give up?

Man vs. God(s)
Can material success in life guarantee anything about one’s soul? What if a man believes it will only to find that it may not? Why would he initially believe it does (perhaps he views wealth as God’s blessing for his character)? How does he come to the realization that material wealth may not equal salvation, and how does this affect his views on life’s purpose and meaning?

Man vs. himself
What if our main character resists learning the purpose of his life because he is afraid to know the truth? Why is he fearful of this? What forces compel him to learn the truth and to face the real nature of existence?