Alive, and in need of assistance!

See, I'm thinking about entering a short story contest. The story has to be about someone who has to hide something about themselves from society. Now, on the bus ride to school this morning, I managed to think up seven aspects of one's identity that one might like to hide:

  • race/nationality
  • ancestral lineage (because they may have a particularly vilified ancestor)
  • likes and dislikes (see also: passions, like my Japanophilia)
  • sexual orientation/gender identity
  • physical/mental health issues (do extreme phobias count?)
  • supernatural abilities
  • religion (or lack thereof)

Then at lunch, a classmate suggested "sense of style" (which, in hindsight, may not be so easy to hide...), and I just came up with "social standing."

Now, which of these would be the least offensive to write about?

UPDATE (9-26-12): I've decided to write about an atheist! (Real original, man...) Thank you for your help! I'll let you know if I win. :D

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Replies to This Discussion

Oh, I forgot to mention--the deadline to enter is next Monday!

My dear Ms. Ritchie, why on EARTH would you want to write anything but the most offensive short story.  Write about an atheist queer feeling up a horny priest on a bus.  Bunuel's movies are horribly offensive to many Catholics but his many send-ups of Catholicism and especiallyl the sadomasochistic priesthood are devastating.  If Voltaire had been cautious in what he wrote he would not have been so marginalized by the powers that were and stepped on at the end.  Try to combine all of your characteristics in one person, perhaps something of Lafcadio in Gide's Les caves du Vatican, a man so depraved he commits the perfect murder: throwing a total stranger off the train.  By that he had illustrated the amoral man so prized of some Oriental philosophical systems if one can accept that it was Lafcadio's own character that was at stake. One does as one wills.

I'm trying not to be offensive because that's one of the rules. The story can't promote hatred/bigotry against a person or a group of people.

Everything offends someone so go with what YOU feel strongest about. Write what you know and don't hold back. Good luck.

How about someone who deliberately increased Greenhouse gases in a big way, or did some other environmental crime that wasn't actually illegal. Living in the future a decade from now when everything's falling apart because Climate Change is clearly out of control and the planet is heading for very probable civilization collapse from 6 degrees C rise. Her home was destroyed by a mega flood, she's struggling with heat emergencies, drought and food shortage. Climate refugees crowd the streets, begging. Her own twelve year old daughter is morose and angry about not having a safe world in which to grow up. Major tropical cities have been flooded from extra heavy monsoons. I just read about Microsoft wasting millions of watts, for example, though it claims to be green.

There will be lots of DRAMA as Climate Destabilization unfolds and, feedbacks take control out of our hands. People feeling helpless and trapped. Lots of public blame and self-reproach.

On the other hand, of the four kinds of plots tragedy, comedy, romance, and irony, I personally think the only story that isn't totally depressing in this situation is the ironic storyline where love transforms evil to good. For Climate Destabilization, in a world where the climate is already fated for serious degradation, the only hope is human transformation. Some good could come out of it all if we unite in wisdom to limit our population to the carrying capacity still left. If we simultaneously choose goals for human reproduction, instead of across the board limits such as the One Child China policy, humanity could begin to improve. Perhaps the protagonist could work through her guilt by helping to found a coalition of people who cooperate in their reproduction to have healthier, brighter, more creative and problem solving descendents, setting an example that others follow. Then, when her daughter finds out her dark secret, instead of blame they can deal with her responsibility. Finding their own Truth and Reconciliation for the personal transition from ecocidal to sustainable humanity. Then they share their personal journey on social media and inspire others.

Is that too much for a short story?




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