Four writing prompts: Violence

Good stories center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise from witnessing or suffering from another’s brutality. Here are four writing prompts for stories that center on violence.

Man vs. man
Two characters are caught in a situation in which they are pitted against one another in some sort of savage competition. Why are they pitted against one another? What if one of them decides to no longer fight? How does he convince the other to not fight?

Man vs. society
Our main character lives in a setting where violence is rampant. What if he decides he no longer can by being violent as well? How does he arrive at this turning point? With such an attitude, can he survive long in this setting? How does he begin to encourage and change others to be nonviolent?

Man vs. God(s)
A man suffers during horrific acts of violence (e.g. genocide, a political purge in a third world country, revenge by a drug cartel) that causes him to question God’s existence; after all, how could a just God allow such horrors to occur? How does he regain his faith (Perhaps he discovers that without faith, he increasingly behaves in the same ways that those who caused him so much pain?)?

Man vs. himself
The protagonist finds himself in a situation (e.g. an occupying army, a gang, prison) where depravity involving violence is the norm. Unable to walk away from it, how does his conscience wrestle with the horrors he witnesses and even is expected to participate in?


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.