Embarrass your story characters with these 21 writing prompts

Embarrassed young woman

Use embarrassment to your advantage

Embarrassment can be a very helpful tool in writing — it can help your character become more likeable and relatable… more human, in fact. Create a sympathetic character by adding an embarrassing scenario into your story, and how your character reacts to the discomfort of the event will help your readers get to know them. If you’re writing any kind of fiction, you could consider including an event like those listed below. They are all listed in first person for ease, but could work for any character in any tense. Of course, if you’re feeling brave, you could include your own personal embarrassing experiences in your fiction, too!

  • You realise you have been calling someone by the wrong name for weeks.
  • You knock on a toilet cubicle and get no response, so you push the door open but unfortunately there is someone in the cubicle.
  • Someone walks in on you in the toilet cubicle.
  • You are swimming in the sea or a swimming pool and your bikini top or trunks make a bid for freedom.
  • You and a colleague are discussing the inadequacies or quirks of another colleague and they unfortunately overhear the entire conversation.
  • You are in a public space and suddenly you don’t feel very well. Before you know what’s happening, you are vomiting on the pavement.
  • You go to pay for your supermarket shopping and realise you don’t have enough money to pay for it, or you have forgotten your wallet/purse.
  • You trawl through an ex’s Facebook photos after finding out their account is public, but then you accidentally ‘like’ one of the images. Which is from five years ago.
  • You reply to a colleague regarding a group email, except you actually clicked ‘reply all’ and now the whole office has read what you wrote.
  • You spill a drink on your lap which makes it look like you have wet yourself.
  • You propose to your partner in public and they say no.
Man proposing and woman saying no

A public proposal, gone wrong

  • You trip over in public and end up in a water fountain.
  • You send a text message or WhatsApp to the wrong person, with embarrassing consequences.
  • You wave to a stranger, thinking it was someone you knew.
  • Your skirt blows upwards on a windy day, revealing your undergarments.
  • Your parents share an embarrassing story about you with your friends.
  • You have to stand up in a school assembly to accept an award, but you fall off the stage.
  • On your first day in a new job, you aren’t well but didn’t want to call in sick: you vomit on the receptionist.
  • You strongly misinterpret the dress code for a social occasion and turn up in an outrageously incorrect outfit.
  • You congratulate a woman on her pregnancy only to find out she’s not pregnant.
  • You knock over a large product display in a shop.

What embarrassing moments have you included in your fiction writing? Let us know in the comments below.

Want some general writing prompts? Read this blog post.

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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