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Free Character Writing Prompts #25:
Ninjas and Samurai



Ninjas and Samurai have a special place in my heart as one of the favorite video game character types of my youth. During elementary and middle school, I could be frequently found playing Ninja Gaiden or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both 8-bit Nintendo games. Ninjas are elusive creatures with amazing skills and backgrounds that are shrouded in mystery. Samurai are warriors with a code of honor that runs deep and they are portrayed wonderfully in movies like The Seven Samurai and Yojimbo. While most traditional stories will not employ these character types, it never hurts to bring in the elements of a strong-warrior from an ancient tradition into an action-adventure set in the past.

Free Character Writing Prompts #25: Ninjas and Samurai

1. He was a powerful warrior who had learned the art of ninjitsu at a young age from his domineering father. He escaped home as early as he could to go off and study with other masters and due to his persistence he was able to learn techniques that most would have given up on. He became feared throughout the land as a man who could easily kill with a single touch just the right areas. He grew tired of his dominance and settled down with a family of his own. He soon realized that unless he worked on his attitude, he would be just like his own father and drive his family away. What will this master ninja do to master himself?

2. As one of the last samurai, he knew that it was up to him to impart the wisdom of his culture to future generations. He opted to become a teacher at a large school, to both pass down the teachings of the samurai and to avoid a war so that he could put those practices into a book. His book ended up becoming one of the most popular volumes of all time in his country and he achieved his goal of spreading the word that fighting was often not the answer and that self-reliance and compromise was the best combination for any situation. What other lessons did this master have to impart to future generations and why?

3. You were the commander of a small fleet of soldiers and you and your men were currently being decimated by a cloaked figure. After the ninja had taken out most of the soldiers, she took off her mask to reveal that she was a woman. Not just any woman though, she was the daughter of the very war criminal you were trying to apprehend. It turned out that the man had taught his daughter exceptionally well from a young age. She didn't understand the severity of her father's crime and believed that protecting him was good for the country. She loved her father deeply and would kill every man that came for him. Will it be possible to make her understand that her father is actually an evil man?

4. The ways of the samurai were not frequently taught to women, but hundreds of years after the last true samurai was lost, she opted to bring the culture back strictly with women. She formed what started as an exercise club at the local gym and turned it into a way of life. Women who were intrigued by the art of mastering the self and learning aspects of martial arts came back week after week. It wasn't the samurai practice itself, however, it was the founder's enthusiasm with it and her desire to bring it into reality. How did the woman feel about creating such a movement and flipping the gender balance of samurai worldwide?

5. He was able to fly through the air as if gravity couldn't hold him down. Then again, he was in a high school full of boys and girls who could do the same. He was one of the top students and the other ninjas-in-training marveled at his skill. If only they knew the fear he harbored inside. After losing his parents at a young age, he was incredibly afraid of dying at any moment and it was this fear that pushed him to be better than all of his peers. He knew he needed to be the fastest in the world to prevent unnatural death and he was close to achieving it. Will he ever be able to overcome his fear and if so, what will do it?

6. He was certainly able to fight and he often won, but he was no true samurai. He had made efforts to be brought into the group of samurai warriors protecting the village, and while they appreciated his help, they did not acknowledge him as one of them. They believed he hadn't had the proper training and his bawdy actions with women and his frequent drunkenness disqualified him from their ranks. He wanted nothing more than to prove himself to them and he figured he'd do that by showing off his skills defending the village. Is he successful in his quest of proving himself to be a samurai?

7. She had trained her whole life so that her family would be safe from the impending attacks. While she survived, the rest of her family fell to the new tyrannical regime. She could think of only one way to avenge her family and that was to go over to the other side and destroy them from within. She made herself beautiful and pretended to be the perfect woman, which gained her the favor of many suitors including the new dictator. She faked falling deeply in love with him and she was eventually married. When a rebellion began to brew, she took this opportunity to strike. What will she do to avenge her family and what will she feel like upon exacting her revenge?

8. Staying at home and hoping for marriage when there were men out there losing their lives? This was no life for her, she decided and with the help of her friends, she changed her looks into that of a man's. She quickly picked up on the fighting style of the warrior and rose through the ranks while keeping her secret. She learned much about what men said behind women's backs and felt completely at home. She never wanted to go back to her original life. Will this fighting woman be able to keep her secret from the men she now calls friends?

9. When he started being bullied at school, he determined that despite his fate, he would not be tempted to do something stupid like getting even. He instead opted to learn all that he could about the way of the samurai warrior. He learned from books and from after-school classes and he was able to defend himself. He never used his ability to strike back, however, he simply deflected every attack using the momentum of his attackers. Eventually, the bullies grew tired of their inability to hurt him and turned toward other students. The problem is, he had decided to defend everyone in the school at all times. Now that he was safe, why did he decide to protect the other students?

10. Her warrior ways had always been looked down upon by her parents, who wanted her to become a good bride and nothing more. When her brother was kidnapped, however, they changed their tune, hoping that she could use her skills to return him to the family. She travelled across the land, hoping to save her brother and get back in her parents' good graces. She was successful in her mission, but only a few months later her parents were back to asking her about giving up this "silly ninja business." She decided that the only way for her would be to lead a double life. How did she go about this and what will the rest of her life be like? 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

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 and Facebook.

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