Free Character Writing Prompts #61:
Goons and Thugs

Watch out for these character writing prompts, since these goons and thugs might break your legs if they don't like your answers! Just as villains are the counterpart to heroes, goons and thugs are the corollary to sidekicks. Though it seems like it from the section title, not all goons and thugs are involved in some kind of organized crime business. When you are creating a villain in any profession, a shady doctor or an evil drama teacher, you also want to come up with a second-in-command that holds his or her own. Let's get beyond the clichés of a muscle head or a yes man and find something memorable about these characters. 

Free Character Writing Prompts #61: Goons and Thugs

1. While it wasn't very well known as a profession, every political campaign needed a guy to take care of the dirty work. He was that guy. Some of his day to day tasks included keeping people with information quiet and letting them know "what's best for them." He never "hurt" anybody, though he did show off his impressive muscles to those looking to do damage to his boss' chances of staying in office. At the end of the day, he collected the benefits of a government employee and kept his family well fed. How did this thug get into the business of politics and does he like his job?

2. There was something he hated about the word, "torture." He liked "coercion" or "compulsion" much better as he felt these words were much more professional. After all, he wasn't just some two-bit crook who chopped off thumbs and pulled fingernails apart. There wasn't any style to it. He was an expert when it came to making people say what needed to be said. His employers loved his style because it wasn't blood and it didn't elicit screams, because it was more psychological than physical. He was willing to draw a little blood if needed, but it was a last resort, because pain came in many forms and some were much less messy. How did he get into the "coercion" business and what does he enjoy about it?

3. She didn't mind that she had to use her sex appeal to get some jobs done for her employer. Sometimes, she would seduce a guy and handcuff him to the bed so that her employer could talk to him alone for a few minutes. She had also used her talents to steal a few important items here and there or to extract a phone number or contact for her boss. She felt like a spy or something most of the time, not like an object. She was treated extremely well and got nearly everything she needed financially for her troubles, though she had been put in danger more than a few times. It was a difficult life sometimes, but she was happy to be able to take care of her family, even though her job wasn't on the up and up. What are some of the most difficult "assignments" she's had to take on?

4. She was one of the most important assets for the mob in the city. Despite that, most in the world of organized crime hated her with a passion. Only a few at the top of the organization knew that this high-ranking policewoman was actually a double agent, truly working to keep those in the top of the mob world out of trouble. She had put a ton of low-ranking mob personnel in jail, but when the police had a major opportunity to deal a blow to the mob, she quickly informed them of what they needed to do to escape. The police couldn't figure out how they seemed to avoid every major victory and she was proud at her ability to keep things secret. How and why did she decide to be one of the bad guys when she was revered as one of the best cops in town?

5. His parents were always worried about how he'd fit in. He was much bigger than his classmates throughout school and he had failed three grades along the way, leaving him behind the intelligence level of most of his classmates. It wasn't until he found his calling, as a goon for a crime syndicate that he found his place. Sure, they were scared that he'd get arrested and that they'd have to bail him out, but, he seemed to really enjoy his job and more than anything else, he loved being valued. What are some of his best skills as an extremely strong goon for a less than reputable employer?

6. By trade, he was a loan shark's money collector, but he fancied himself a bit of a poet. Yes, it's true that he was hired because of his boxing background and that if called upon, he could easily break someone's thumbs or ankles. On the other hand, much of the violence of his job was uninspiring to him and his writing. He wrote love poems, sonnets and odes to the nature and music he experienced every day. He didn't have a whole lot of people to share his stuff with, so he went to open mics and poetry slams as frequently as possible. How did this man who punches for a living learn to have such a love for words?

7. When your line of work is breaking into high security areas, it helps to have someone who can get into and out of tight spaces. This former gymnast and martial artist was so precise in her movements that she could move between infrared beams of light to avoid tripping alarms. She could use her skills to climb high walls and narrowly avoid pressurized floor sensors. In addition, she was such a cute, young looking woman, that if something was going wrong on a mission, she could use her charm and her big blue eyes to diffuse a situation. How did she get into the business of breaking and entering and what are some of the benefits and detriments of such a high risk career?

8. She was the main squeeze of the gang's leader and she was quite a woman. After all, how many women can lift a small vehicle off the ground? She was a former professional wrestler, turned bodyguard, turned object of affection, as there was nothing the boss loved more than strength. While other women might want to stay out of her lover's business, she wanted to be as involved as possible, especially when it came to taking care of people who had fallen out of line. She knew that she was leading a dangerous life, but she was doing it for love and for her love of bashing heads in. What is her relationship like with her gang boss boyfriend?

9. He wasn't particularly big or strong. He didn't strike fear into the heart of the people he threatened or the cops he laughed at when he was being interrogated. He seemed like a perfectly normal guy on the outside. That is, of course, until he snapped. He had a temper on him that burned as hot as the fires of hell. And when he got mad, it wasn't just about anger, he was absolutely crazy in both his emotions and his actions. For instance, when he got into a sticky situation and was trapped in a room with five attackers, nobody knows exactly what happened, but when he opened the door, he was the only person alive. The stories of this kind of crazy ability when pushed to the edge, now that's what made people afraid of him. How did his temper come to be and is he ever able to calm it down?

10. Where she was born, it was a challenge just to stay alive, and she learned many tricks from her parents to preserve herself in a difficult world. When she moved to the United States, she was recognized for her talents when she poisoned a gang member who was trying to take advantage of her. Soon enough, she was being paid for her talents as a sort of jack-of-all-kills, with an array of ways to take certain people down before they took her down first. She loved her new life now that she was no longer on the bottom, but she felt strange about killing people who hadn't directly wronged her or her family. When given an opportunity to get out of the business, will she take it or continue to live in the lap of luxury? 

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Done with Character Writing Prompts about Goons and Thugs? Go back to Creative Writing Prompts. 

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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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