4 Writing Prompts: Fear of Failure

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
What if a child is sent on a nature-oriented rite of passage but fears failing it? What is the source of his fear? What are the consequences if he fails?

Man vs. society
Our main character fears not being able to fit into a society that is always becoming but never “is”; that is, the society is in a constant state of transformation thanks to demographic trends, fads, economic cycles, and more. Why does the protagonist want to fit in and how does he attempt to do so? What does he ultimately decide about his effort to fit in – is it a fool’s errand or is the effort itself worth the attempt?

Man vs. God(s)
As a man nears death (due to old age, a serious injury, or on the eve of a wartime battle his side is certain to lose), he fears that there is no significance and meaning to life. Can he find it before passing? How?

Man vs. himself
Our main character, after much study, achieves an honor (promoted to be an officer, given his chef’s hat, earns an MBA, etc.) and then is assigned/hired to fix a problem (command a broken unit of men, save a fancy restaurant, lead a floundering company, etc.) that he quickly realizes may be beyond his skills and abilities. How does our main character persevere and, despite his self-doubt (and the doubt of many others), succeed?


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.