Writing Prompt #13 - Inhibitions

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

March 1, 2010 -- 5:47 p.m.

Well, I finally plugged my nose and read my submission to Ender's Companion. You can tell reading it that it's not my normal clean, clipped style, especially with the frequent switching of tenses, but it's still not bad. Either they edited it to make it readable or I'm so amazingly talented, it shines even when I'm wasted.

Title: Inhibitions
Genre: Any
Type: Character

One of the side effects of alcohol is that it makes us do things we wouldn't ordinarily do--at least for most people. Some people live their lives exactly as they want, easily ignoring their inhibitions.

Sometimes, however, inhibitions shouldn't be ignored. Has your character ever done something in their past that they consider deeply shaming? Told their deepest secrets to a person who turned out to be an enemy? Had sex with someone they despised, or made promises to someone whom they later abandoned? It doesn't have to be because of alcohol. A moment of weakness, of despair, of foolishness. We all make mistakes, and some of them we regret for the rest of our lives.

What is the worst thing your character has ever done in his or her life? Remember, what you would consider the worst is different from what your character considered might consider the worst. Everyone has their own personal standards of honor. Mine are pretty flexible. I admit that I lie and cheated frequently throughout my education, because it seemed to be a victimless crime. Academia, for me, has always been a game, and it was fun to see what I could pull off. My sense of morality on that score is still pretty fluid, but on the other hand, there are things that matter to me. For instance, cheating by writing test answers on the back of my hand is no big deal, but the idea of plagiarism is abhorrent to me. I might lie to get myself out of trouble, but I would never make up a newspaper article from scratch, as one of my employees once did. For me, that is betraying a sacred trust.

Another example: most people my age pirate music, movies, whatever, and justify this to themselves based on "evil corporations." I pirated things in my day, but I never felt comfortable about it. I've since stopped the practice, because evil corporations are people too. And because my favorite thing to pirate was audio books, and I realized it was like stealing from my future self. Now I buy them legitimately.

But I've done other things that betray my own honor code that I'm deeply ashamed of. Things that really have hurt people, that I wish with all my heart I could retroactively go back and solve. The question is, what is your character's honor code? What is the worst possible thing he has ever done to betray it, and himself? Will his past mistakes come to haunt him in the present, or will they just shape him in a deeper, more meaningful way?


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