[Writing Prompt] Guest Prompt from James Scott Bell

Today’s prompt is from best-selling novelist and popular writing teacher James Scott Bell. Thanks, Jim

The Prompt from JSB

Write about your antagonist’s life at the age of sixteen. What were the events that shaped this character back then, and still haunt today?

James Scott Bell is a best-selling author of books for writers and thrillers like Deceived, Try Dying, Watch Your Back, and One More Lie (International Thriller Writers Award finalist).  He writes frequently for Writer’s Digest magazine and blogs every Sunday at The Kill Zone. You can find some of his books for authors here.

Tips from Julie

  • Choose the antagonist/villain of a previous story.
  • Or choose the antagonist of a work-in-progress or the novel you’ve been planning to write but can’t get a handle on.
  • Remember that an antagonist isn’t necessarily the villain — just the character that gets in the way of your hero’s dream


9 thoughts on “[Writing Prompt] Guest Prompt from James Scott Bell”

  1. Without an antagonist in mind, I wrote a flashback explaining what caused Tuco (portrayed by Eli Wallach in Sergio Leone’s 1966 film, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”) to become the bumbling bad guy who’s hard to hate.

  2. I really wish that actual story prompts would get posted instead of general writing prompts. They’re different. This is Story a Day May. We should have story prompts.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. That’s really helpful.

      My thinking has been that I want to stimulate your own creativity and I have no idea what subjects will interest people. So far I’ve mostly encouraged people to create their own Story Sparks (https://storyaday.org/wow-story-sparks/)before and during the challenge.

      For topic-specific story prompts I recommend joining the community and checking out Summer Ross’s Writing Prompt Group (https://storyaday.org/groups/writing-prompts/) or Julia H. West’s Story Prompt group on Facebook, or playing with DIYMFA.com’s very cool prompter, the Writer Igniter (http://diymfa.com/writer-igniter).

      But I’ll think about adding more scenarios here too.

  3. I reversed prompts quite by accident as I didn’t get the Sunday prompt. It’s quite weird, but I had a great time with both. At sarahcain78.com. Happy Monday! Sarah

  4. I used this to write a short story about an antagonist from a WIP novel. I *thought* I knew where she was coming from, but writing the short story gave her so much more depth. It will save me flapping around in the first draft of the novel, trying to understand why she is the way she is and why she reacts to my heroine the way she does (but now it’ll all be there, under the surface).

    Great prompt. Thanks!

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