Take a stand with these 10 character writing prompts about activists. I can't help but admire people who have a strong cause to guide their paths, because having something to believe in and putting all of your resources behind it is pretty awesome. There are activists who are content with holding up a sign and shouting at the top of their lungs, and there are also activists who are willing to go to extreme measures by spending their entire lives on one particular cause. While many stories tend to portray activists as wild-eyed and crazy, in many cases an activist is a regular person who felt a call to action. Showing that moment unfold and how it affects the trajectory of a life can be quite intriguing in your story.
Free Character Writing Prompts #84: Activists
1. Whether or not anyone knew it, he was the originator of a huge nationwide movement to rail against the government and its financial policies. He came up with the name, sent the first tweet and organized the first protest in what would dominate the national headlines in the months to come. His tiny protest, in a small town, occurred outside of a chain bank that had recently moved into town. He had very specific demands and had all the proper permits for the protest. He was amazed that the idea of a movement he started spread throughout the country, but he was concerned that it didn't have the focus that his original protest had. He made an effort to contribute to it on a national level, but despite his best efforts, nobody believed that he had any part in the beginnings of a juggernaut. How does he feel about creating a movement that quickly went out of his control?
2. He got into activism because of a girl he had a major crush on in college. She was extremely into causes and he didn't want to seem as if he wasn't invested. After all, she was really cute and he thoroughly wanted to impress her. While his efforts did lead to a make out session or two, he was surprised to find that he actually enjoyed being involved in causes. He switched his major to political science and began to learn everything he could about being an active citizen. He started going to protests and citizen action committee meetings without any chance of personal gain. He found areas he was interested in and started writing a popular blog on those subjects. When he came home for the holidays one year, his dad said he could see it in his eyes, he had found his true calling. He went off to a long career of working for non-profits and volunteering for various causes. Have his attempts at activism ever gone full circle, inadvertently finding his love once he stopped looking for it in his line of work?
3. For her and her family, being an activist was a family affair. She recalled her hippie parents bringing her to rallies in major metropolitan areas, despite them living out in the middle of nowhere. She missed school as her parents taught her "applied civic duties" in a van on the way to every event. Now that she had grown up and had kids of her own, she felt the same need to protest the areas in which the world needed fixing. She wanted to pass down the tradition of activism to her kids and likewise removed them from school from time to time to get them involved in the causes she faced. She didn't just feel the normal pride of standing up to a force that seemed at times too powerful to defeat: she also knew the pride of carrying on a family tradition and passing it onto the next generation. How does she describe these events to her young children?
4. She'd grown up daddy's little girl when it came to her beliefs on gay marriage and the family. Since daddy was a political pundit for a conservative news network, that didn't get her many friends on the liberal side of her high school. When she went away to college, she absolutely loved hanging out with her roommate and wanted to recruit her as a best friend. About halfway through the year, she realized that her roommate was gay and couldn't believe that someone this cool couldn't choose a person she loved to get married to. When she brought her friend home for Christmas, it created a major schism in the family and she felt like she saw her dad's true hateful colors. While she wasn't interested in the same sex herself, she had certainly become interested in same-sex rights. How will her political views continue to change through college and the rest of her life?
5. He used to be on top of the world. As an investment banker, he was making money hand over fist, utilizing all the loopholes he could find in the system to increase his personal wealth. It wasn't until he realized where that money was coming from that he reconsidered his life's path. Did his family really need multiple houses and multiple high-priced vehicles when there were others without one home, one vehicle or enough food to eat, he wondered to himself. He wrote a book preaching reform for the major banks and investment firms, talking about the tricks of the trade he used to use to get as much money as possible. His book became a best seller, and he became a symbol for a movement against corporate greed. He donated nearly all of his book sale money to the movement, much to the chagrin of his wife. What will his next step be in contributing to this form of activism?
6. He was sick and tired of being homeless. He was tired of dragging his two sons through his unemployment and he wanted the governor to hear about it. When he and a group of his peers were kicked off of the state building's property without receiving an audience, their numbers swelled and they marched for days in an effort to bring attention to their plight. They became the talk of the town, and he was their leader. His sound bites to the local news station gave him support from the community around them and the owner of a former school building turned the property into a shelter. From that shelter, he began an organization that would try to bring even more awareness to their issues in a tough economic climate. How will his sons look on his efforts as they grow older?
7. She wasn't an activist, but she played one on TV. In the wake of the popular Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2011, one of the major television networks wrote a pilot based on a family of activists. Not only was the show a hit, but it propelled all of its mid-level stars into superstardom, especially her, due to her leading lady status. The show was a sitcom, but it had a lot of heart, and the writers actually paid attention to the issues that required protesting. Since their voice came through her mouth, she was labeled as a hero of modern activism. In real life, she was more or less neutral when it came to the issues, but she was invited to so many events and was "quoted" as saying so many important phrases on national television that she couldn't help but gain interest. When her show comes to an end, will she continue to be involved in important causes?
8. Her parents were always a little bit worried about their daughter's favorite phrase. Whenever she was affronted, she said, "I am willing to die for my beliefs." They didn't know where she picked up that attitude, and they were proud that she was able to stand up for herself, but they figured it would get her into a lot of trouble depending on how she applied it. When they received the phone call that she had been jailed and required bailing out, they considered letting her stew overnight but eventually relented. After the third time, once again for protesting without a permit, they let her stay in overnight. After dealing with a prison cell overnight, instead of changing her ways, she now shunned her parents, stating that not bailing her out of jail was a form of oppression. She moved away and her parents didn't hear from her for years to come. Where did she go and will she ever repair her relationship with her parents?
9. His friends thought of him as the "human pinball of activism." They were pretty socially conscious and they were willing to support a protest for a cause they believed in. His activism was a bit different, however. If he heard about a cause, even briefly, he would immediately dive in, face forward. It didn't even matter if he knew both sides of the issue or if he had any relationship to it, he was in, full force, until he heard about another equally valid cause. His friends even recall one summer in which during a span of three months, he lobbied angrily and constantly for both sides of a cause. He eventually ended up back on the first side he was rallying for. He had no idea what he wanted when it came to his beliefs, but when he had beliefs, he knew he wanted them heard. What are some other ways in which his blind passion has manifested over the years?
10. She was a seeming contradiction and the whole world knew about it. She was one of the nation's foremost protesters against the rights of women. Her argument was that the country was in much better shape before women had the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Heck, she was against women's right to vote. She would frequently appear on conservative news networks to act as the voice against the changes in the rights of women over the years. She spoke about how other countries had it right, moving women backward in what they could or couldn't do, because in her opinion, women were evil. She was frequently asked if she realized that she was railing against the very thing she was doing and she usually changed the subject. How did this woman come about these beliefs in a typically progressive world?
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.