Four Great Writing Prompts: Fear

Good stories center on the clashing of characters’ goals and motivations. Sometimes a character’s goals and motivations arise upon achieving his dreams. Here are four writing prompts for stories that center on the motivation of dreams.

Man vs. nature
After being stranded in an extremely inhospitable environment (for example, a plane crash in remote mountains or a boat wreck near a distant ocean island), our protagonist faces starvation. But, at least in the short term, is the greater danger his fear of starvation or hunger itself?

Man vs. man
What if the protagonist discovers that the very person he has cast their fate with carries a dark secret – one that he’s willing to murder for? How does our protagonist verify that the secret is true and what does.

Man vs. society
The main character is sent to help people who are fearful of “outsiders.” Some of them even blame those who sent the protagonist to assist them for their problems (and such fault may be in part be true). How does our protagonist get them to overcome their fears so he can provide the relief they need?

Man vs. himself
What if your protagonist greatest fear is avoiding death for the wrong reason? In this case, je knows he must a noble or moral act that inevitably will lead to his death or he will be considered a coward. While not wanting to die, he views thinking of himself as a coward to be a sort of living death. Which decision will he make in the end: the noble/moral act that leave him dead or cowardice that leaves him alive?


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.