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The 2016 Fiction Issue

'Your Character'

Forty different ways writers torture their characters.
Photos by Weronika Gęsicka

This story appeared in the December Fiction Issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE* *to subscribe.

Your character is wounded in a ditch. Your character is stuck in a lockdown. Your character stalls out in a long line of traffic. Your character meets the last man on earth. Your character stays by the body, waits for the police to arrive.

Your character runs away from home.

Your character gets pushed into a fountain. Your character walks home in the rain. Your character is lost outside in the middle of a storm. Your character cries in a bathroom stall. Your character leaps from a sinking boat.


Your character makes a snowman.

An unnamed man arrives on the scene.

Insert random song-and-dance act. Insert random talking animal.

Every plot has room for an assassin or two.

Your character convinces the public to try out a new body-modification unit that starts out innocent then gets mildly addicting, and then becomes a physiological need. By the end the body is converted into a plastic-like substance.

Your character is shunned by all but one (a talking duck).

Your character blows up the love interest—an accident, but still.

Your character beds an old man. Your character sleeps on a board beneath a bridge. Your character stays up all night, cries all night, wakes in the night, walks in the moonlight, sleep talks. Your character lies down in the graveyard. Your character wakes six weeks later to learn most of the ship's crew is dead.

Your character just isn't sure true love exists.

Your character is arrested—it's a wrong place/wrong time scenario. Your character vaults from the roof. Your character stands up and screams. Your character collapses on the sidewalk. Your character takes the ashes, runs through the funeral. Your character feels the water closing overhead.

A pre-dystopic government is in power.

Pirates attack!

The sidekick is lost. The sidekick has the wrong briefcase. The technology fails. The sidekick, who was sitting on a desert island, raggedy, starving, alone, fading, suddenly drops out of the sky and onto your character.

The love interest is too small to survive. The love interest falls in love with someone else abruptly and quits the quest. Might return later. The love interest has been cursed and lost his memory. Does not remember your character. The love interest prays in an ancient temple for your character. The love interest avoids your character at the school dance.

Your character just wants a normal life—but that is the only thing under heaven that your character cannot have.

Your character dies. The story goes on without her. The water is rising, the sky is breaking, the air is filling with poison. The bottom of the window is six feet up.

This story appeared in the December Fiction Issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE* *to subscribe.