December’s Writing Prompt: Alone in the World


For November’s writing prompt, go here.

The Christmas/Holiday/time off work season is a time for family. We gather together, often based on common ancestry, common blood, common nationality, common community ties, or whatever else creates an in-group.

What if everyone else joined together along those lines, but you could not?

Image: from BBC/Thinkstock

It could be nationality, race, creed, geographic location, or any other factor that – were you the only one – would make you feel alone. (Admittedly, probably not gender.)

What would this person feel? How would this person react? Would s/he be lonely, possibly to the point of insanity? Would a hermit love this situation, or feel just as isolated, knowing that a return to society isn’t possible? Would someone in a multicultural society latch onto another culture? Would someone more fiercely attached to his or her own culture attempt to teach others about it in the hope of creating a small, if dedicated society in love of it?

Let’s say this is a cultural issue, however defined.

Setting: Where this takes place starts the whole story. Is our protagonist in an apartment building full of parties, but doesn’t know which one to join? Does s/he have to move to a new city in order to find a companion, not knowing whether anyone there will be accepting? (Or whether someone in a neighbouring city would be more accepting, turning our main character into a Buridan’s Ass?) Is our protagonist the only one left in the world?

Character: Does our protagonist want to meet new people? Or not? Is s/he being persecuted, or is s/he someone others seek out as a mentor on a near-extinct culture? Is that culture an asset or a liability? Most of all, does s/he feel like there is a community of one, or need to be around others of the same culture – or anyone else?

Plot: What has to be done in order to congregate with others – or avoid them? What could prevent a person from integration into a holiday celebration, whether it’s language, mannerisms, or anything else, all the way down to food allergies? If or when there finally is a resolution, whether it’s in community or solitude, what does that mean to our protagonist, or to the reader?

If your character is alone this holiday season (which I am not), there could be thousands of reasons why.

For additional inspiration, there are books out there.


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