Monday, February 9, 2015

Writing Prompt: Do You Push the Button?

This week you get a very detailed and specific writing prompt that requires some personal exploration:

The authorities have caught and captured the five people responsible for a horrible terrorist attack that killed dozens of innocent men, women, and children, including the protagonist's entire family. The protagonist has been given a remote detonator that, if used, will blow up the van that is taking the five to their trial, killing all inside. The van is rolling, so she has only a few minutes to decide whether to press the button.
That ain't no lipstick.

Tell the story of her inner struggle to decide whether to press the button.

Ulterior motive

If you've read only a few pages of a single book about story writing, you've already heard more than once that conflict is at the heart of any story, and that the tension that derives from the conflict is often what keeps a reader reading.

The standard maxim for the protagonist-antagonist conflict is "two dogs, one bone." An internal conflict like this turns that maxim on its head: "One dog, two bones." Which will she choose?

This prompt should also lead to a story of a particular type: the type intended to make a point. You'll need to explore your own feelings about what justice means and then figure out how to express your beliefs through this story. (Note that this doesn't mean that the protagonist should do what you would do. Sometimes you can make a point more poignant by showing the effects of making the wrong choice.)