[Write On Wednesday] Zeitgeist

Are you even moved by an injustice in the world? A news story? A historic event that you feel has stories in it that haven’t been told?

It can be hard to figure out how to write a story that is of the moment, but doesn’t become irrelevant when the news cycle moves on.

Yesterday’s Reading Room post was all about a story just like that and it pointed one way forward: set your story in the moment (in that story’s case, it was during the Occupy Wall St movement), but make the story about more universal issues. The protagonist of “We Was Twins” was not part of the the Occupy movement, but got caught up in it anyway. He was struggling with issues of poverty, life after military service, grief, estrangement…issues that are universal and timeless.

This week I encourage you to try something similar.

The Prompt

Write a story set in a specific time/place in history, but tell the story of specific individuals dealing with issues that are both specific to them, and part of the human condition.


  • You might write a story about an idealistic twenty-something who goes to help at a refugee camp in Europe only to find that she still gets picked on by people because she can’t stand up for herself.
  • You might write about someone working on Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, but with an intriguing complications in their personal life.
  • What if your main character got caught in Winter Storm Jonas on their way to do something life-changing?
  • You could combine this idea with ‘evergreen’ occasions, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, the first day of spring. Write a story like this and you can republish it every year, or sell it to a publication that’s looking for holiday stories. Make sure your protagonist has an interesting story to tell, that you can highlight/echo/make poignant with the holiday you choose.


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