Free Character Writing Prompts #77: Homeless People
These free character writing prompts are focused on the plights and lives of homeless people. We see them on the streets begging for change, food and shelter and most of the time we turn away. For some of us, it's because panhandling is often illegal and for others it's because we don't truly care. A few others of us can barely stand to watch someone struggling so much. People that have no home were typically not born that way and may have a rich history of success and failure. Drugs can be involved and a string of bad luck is almost always involved. Creating a three-dimensional character instead of one who simply says, "Spare some change?" could help to add more depth to your story.
Free Character Writing Prompts #77: Homeless People
1. He loved his corner and everybody who stopped to wish him well. He was a vendor of a local homeless magazine and sold copies in order to help himself and the homeless in general. He was out there when it was freezing cold and in the height of summer. He didn't care what it was like out, he was being given an opportunity to fight back against his situation and he would never go back on his word. He'd had so much anger growing up and he ran away from every chance someone was willing to give him. Not this time, he thought to himself, this might be the last one he'd ever get. What was the situation behind his homelessness and will he ever be able to pull himself out of it?
2. Life had dealt him some tough blows in his life but he refused to stop singing. After all, due to the busker's license a friend had gotten him, his singing in public for change was completely legal. He would position himself inside the train station and sing for his dinner all day long. About halfway through, he'd use some of the change for a water to help his throat and then he'd keep on going. He had a kid somewhere and though he had no idea where he was in the world, he sang for that child of his. He sang for the hope that someday, he'd have enough money together to live somewhere again. His life was very difficult and at least he knew that he'd be happy as long as he kept singing. What kind of songs does he sing and will he ever meet his son again later in life?
3. She felt like she hadn't looked in a mirror in ages. Her hair was graying more than it had the last time she looked. Her teeth were continuing to rot out and they looked more brown than she remembered. She used to be pretty, she recalled, and the boys she hung out with in school always told her so. She hung out with a rough crowd and she almost laughed thinking about some of the stupid stuff they did. That crowd was the same one that got her into drugs during school, an addiction that she never could quite get a hold of. Even now, years since she'd had the stuff, she knew that just one breath of it would send her back down the hole for another half a decade. What is her day to day routine like and how does she plan on getting back on her feet?
4. She remembered hearing one time that most people who pass by the homeless are thinking to themselves, "She should go get a job?" Her unemployment had nothing to do with a lack of trying. When she had a place to live, she had a job and it barely kept her and her son afloat. When her son's daddy got into trouble, she tried to help him and got locked up as a result. That's when child protective services took her son away. She knew where he was and the family who watched over him let her visit from time to time, even though they weren't really supposed to. She wanted to get a job again so that she could get her baby back. She hasn't found anybody willing to hire a homeless, ex-con yet, but damned if she wasn't going to keep trying. What are some of the jobs she's applied for and what were the circumstances that led to her arrest?
5. The phrases he said all day long when asking for change were starting to stick in his head. Because people at the shelter he stayed at were so quiet, it seemed like the only words he said all day were, "Get a guy something to eat," and "God bless you." He'd experimented with other phrases here and there, some longer, some shorter, but these were the ones that seemed to get him the highest daily income. At the end of the day, he was able to go into the discount grocery store and get himself some snacks. He'd buy two for right then and one for the next morning. On some days he had a little bit extra and that went into the savings in a zipped up pocket on his coat. He didn't know what he was saving for, but maybe someday he'd be able to talk about it using some different words. What are people's usual reactions to his consistent chatter?
6. He had a big family and he loved talking about it with his friends. From time to time, his brother from the big city would come in and chat with him and give him a little bit of money. At that time, the brother would tell him how all the family members were doing. This man without a home loved family more than anything and he told everybody every last detail of his family members. He couldn't wait for each visit, even though they happened quite sporadically. When it had been a while since he saw his brother, he decided to gather up what little money he had and head into the big city to find his brother. When he got to the address his brother had given him, he got quite a surprise. What happened next?
7. One night as she slept in her usual spot, she remembered the childhood story of the troll who lived under the bridge. That was her alright. She had her cart and her set of blankets perpetually stashed under a bridge. She discovered it one night when she was trying to avoid the rain and she'd kept there ever since. A cop had once come up to her and asked her to move and she kindly began to pack up her stuff before he had a change of heart. She remembered that the troll used to eat the goats that would pass the bridge. All the passed on the bridge were cars that from time to time would wake her up. She didn't want to eat any goats, she just wanted to make it to the next day. What are some of the other places she has set up camp aside from under the bridge?
8. If she was going to be on the streets, she was happy to be on the streets in a place where people would share their booze with her. They didn't all directly share it, of course, she would hunt around for cups of half-finished beer and would snatch it before their waiters could in the outdoor seating areas of restaurants. The most exciting event she'd ever experienced was when the local baseball team made it to the World Series and everybody was going crazy. She hung around outside a pretty raucous bar and someone actually bought a bottle of champagne for her. That was a crazy night and she could barely even stumble the next day. Those were the kind of nights she missed before she lost her home and money. What role did alcohol play in her becoming homeless?
9. People would ask him all the time if he used to be that guy on the television. The one who was making big tackles on the football field and trying to get million dollar endorsement deals. The answer was yes and no. After all, it was him in a way, because the name on his birth certificate matched up with the name that used to be located above a locker in a professional locker room. Despite that, he felt like he was a completely different person as his life imploded on him. He handled the pace of the NFL just fine but it was the personal life during it that self-destructed on him. He thought he could get anything he wanted just by taking it, since that's what he did on the field. Drugs, women, prison and homelessness followed from that style of living. Will he ever be able to get back on his feet or back into the game?
10. Her father gave her a choice and she took it. She could continue living the abusive, horrible life she'd been living or she could run away and be hunted. He said he would lie and tell police about the awful things she'd done and how she needed to be put away in juvenile hall. She ran to a friend and begged her for enough money for a bus ticket. The friend relented and she went to the other side of the country with nothing but a change of clothes and a few knick knacks. She found the local homeless shelter and slept it fits and spurts the next night. She had finally gotten away from the awful life she'd been living, but she wondered if she could avoid her father's grasp until she was 18. What will she do to keep herself safe over the next two years and thereafter?
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.