Reading & Writing

Writing Prompt: Someone You Don’t Like

funny uncle

Fiction is about empathy. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes helps us to understand the world on a different level, and to relate to our fellow humans in a deeper, more complicated way.

A lot of writers strive to make their main characters likeable, especially if the POV is written from a close perspective. To that end, I think there’s a tendency to write characters we like personally, so we can make other people like them, too. (I’m all for unlikeable characters, BTW, but that’s another blog post.)

But what if we tried to write from the POV of someone we didn’t like?

That’s the challenge I’m setting today. Write from a close perspective (try to do first person) about someone you know and really don’t like–without making them a monster. Maybe you can even make them sympathetic.


The mornings are the worst. There are joints in my body I did not know existed until they began to ache, maladies that seemed like the first steps toward death.

But I do not die. I lie in my bed, flexing my feet to get the blood flowing. My physical therapist recommends this and though she is the most irritating woman I’ve ever met–a gnat in running shoes and over-tight spandex–it is helpful.

My wife is already up and making coffee in the kitchen. I can’t drink coffee anymore but it doesn’t keep her from brewing it each morning and leaving half a pot wasted in the pot before leaving me alone for the morning while she does whatever it is women do in the mornings by themselves.

“Good morning,” she says when I appear in the doorway. I lean heavily on my cane but she does not come to offer her arm. She’ll  need her own cane soon enough. Still, she does not spare me the indignity of this scrap of drug-store metal and plastic.

I can smell that she hasn’t made breakfast. Full makeup and hair, but no eggs on the stove. She’ll claim it’s because of my cholesterol but in fact she can’t wait to get out of this house. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, it’s better than staying here and talking to an old man.

She kisses my forehead and hands me a bowl of cereal. “I’ll be home after lunch today,” she says. “There’s a nice big salad in the fridge.”

And then she’s gone. I’m still in my pajamas, which will take half the morning to remove and replace with my Dockers. But no one will see this. By the time I get to physical therapy this afternoon, my joints will be warm enough to walk without aid. Perhaps I’ll see the neighbor across the street when I venture out to check the mail.


I didn’t say it was easy.

Share yours in the comments!

A few more writing prompts:

Something pink

Fan Fiction

The Second Person


3 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Someone You Don’t Like”

  1. It’s not exactly first person (but it might be about me) and it could do with major editing but ……

    He had a secret. Or was it a lie?

    Whatever the case he knew something that nobody else knew. He knew that he was not a good person.

    The lie itself was proof enough of it. The deceit. The unwavering pretence.

    He pretended to be good.

    And he did so with such rehearsed precision that he was beginning to believe that even God was being fooled. And if not God then certainly the neighbours.

    He hated the neighbours. Without exception. They had come from nowhere and robbed him of his angry isolation. But even during the invasion he had smiled at each and every one of them. They knew nothing of his alcohol induced nocturnal plans for revenge, of course.

    And the children. The children were the worst of them. As they walked or ran or skipped past his front gate every morning chattering about games and dreams and birthday parties and other things that no longer had meaning to him. Their every waking moment transformed into careless joy and exhaled at full volume.

    He despised them for their naïve happiness.

    Today was the day. Today he had had enough. Today they had kicked a ball into his garden and flattened a tomato plant. And they had laughed about it. And so he had retrieved the ball and marched purposefully with it across the lawn to confront them.

    “Who kicked this?” he demanded.

    The look in his eyes must have shocked them. The laughter had suddenly dissolved and they had fallen silent. Their little hands clung obediently to their sides and they shifted their weight nervously from one foot to another awaiting retribution. His menacing gaze remained fixed on them as he waited and tapped the evidence under his arm with his index finger.

    “Who kicked this?” he repeated.

    Eventually one of them could bare it no longer and had raised a hand to confess.


    But he could not do it. He could not betray the secret. The broad smile of his pretended self invaded him and suddenly he found himself cheerfully handing back the ball and placing an arm around the offending child’s shoulders.

    “Hey! I was kidding you,” he announced, “And wow! What a great kick!”

    And off they went again skipping down the street again throwing the ball to one another.

    “You know,” he added, addressing no-one in particular, “I used to be able to kick a ball like that once.”


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