Four writing prompts: Sanity

Good stories center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise from attempting to live in a world based on normal, rational behavior. Here are four writing prompts for stories that center on sanity.

Man vs. nature
Our protagonist believes that some location he must regularly pass through somehow is malevolent. Why does he believe this? As he falls deeper and deeper into his neurosis and insanity, how does he try to climb back out? Is there any way out? Can the evil place be symbolic of some abstract concept that many in our society suffer a deep neurosis about?

Man vs. man
How does someone maintain his sanity when abused by another? What is his personal story of surviving a living hell? What psychological trauma does he suffer afterward?

Man vs. society
Our main character finds himself thrust into a shadowy underworld where people’s behavior appears to be irrational, even insane. How does he tease out the logic in their seedy behavior and manipulate it so he can return to his own sane, rational world? What if upon returning he finds this his world is just as mad as the one he left?

Man vs. himself
What if our main character begins to see signs of paranormal activity that no one else can see? How does he discover if these strange events are “real” – and how does he maintain his sanity?


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.