Four writing prompts: Control

Good stories center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise from attempting to influence or direct a course of events. Here are four writing prompts for stories that center on control.

Man vs. nature
Our protagonist is marooned in an inhospitable environment. To survive, he attempts to control it but is met with disaster at every turn. What if to survive he must not control the environment but instead live in harmony with it? How does he come to this realization? How does this outlook affect his overall perspective on life?

Man vs. man
What if a successful man – one with a profitable business and who is popular – loses control to his emotions (perhaps his heart wins over his rationality or he tries some addictive drug) for a single night and in doing so jeopardizes all he’s built? How does he regain control of himself despite the lure of the person who helped/caused him to give in to his emotions? Or does he decide to give up “control” (and if so, why)?

Man vs. society
To survive, a society must naturally limit some individual freedoms. What happens, though, in situations where a main character believes those limits are oppressive? What would the main character do to regain some control over his life?

Man vs. himself
Our protagonist loses his job, suffers a divorce, and finds himself cut off from his friends and family all within a few months time. How does he cope with this downward spiral in his life and the self-doubt that accompanies it? Can he regain control of his life – or is such control merely a myth?