I am wondering how to create a good plot for a hermit-type main character who just tries to survive and be left on his own and doesn't want to be bothered with the rest of society.

Because the plot requires the character to go out of his comfort zone I feel the only way to write such a story is to have an incident where he requires the help of some other people in order for him to stick around for a little bit and then find a much higher-purpose type of reason for him to stick around for the rest of the story. Is this the only way? I can't think of a different way to handle such main characters.

  • 1
    Been there, read that. Robinson Crusoe. Considering that the linked book edition is the 300th anniverary edition, possibly this will be just a tiny bit cliche.
    – BillOnne
    Dec 25, 2022 at 6:49
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    Another classic way to pull a hermit-type character out of their comfort zone is to foist an abandoned/lost child on them. -- Another thing to consider is who/what the antagonist is: is it society, is it the hermit themselves, is it the environment?
    – user54131
    Dec 26, 2022 at 10:48

2 Answers 2


Why/how did the MC get isolated from society?
Did they turn their back on society, or did society turn its back on them? Did they do something unforgivable and flee? Or were they unfairly persecuted and grew to hate society in return. Or was there some accident (e.g. a shipwreck) that caused the isolation? The MC's motivations will be colored by the past that led up to this.

What does the MC want, and what do they need?
Do they just want to be left alone? But maybe they need the warmth of friends and family that society can offer. Maybe they want to escape their destiny, but need to go save the world. Maybe they want to hide from the shame of what they did, but need to redeem themselves. Or maybe, to be contrary, they want to be part of society (but are afraid to) and need to learn that it cannot offer what they thought.

What is the inciting incident that sets the story in motion?
Is society encroaching on the hermit's sanctuary, forcing them into action? Is the past catching up to them? Is there an accident that requires them to get help or supplies and thus leave their isolation? Is there someone they need to save (either due to duties from the past, or because the victims are right here in front of them)?

How should the story end?
Does the hermit reintegrate with society? Or start a new society (or family). Or do they fix some problem just to disappear again? Or do they die redeeming themselves for some past crime that they hid from outside society. What's appropriate here depends on the hermit's past.

What is the setting?
What naturally comes to mind is the picture of a hermit living out in the wilds far away from humanity. But it's also quite easy to be isolated right in the middle of a populated city - you can have everything delivered and barely ever interact with anyone. The setting might also be post-apocalyptic, with abandoned cities where one can live without being bothered by anyone. Or science-fiction, with whole planets to be alone on. Or perhaps the hermit is a wanderer, rather than stuck in one place.


When a character has a negative motivation -- that is, a motive to NOT do something -- the only way to figure out how to make it a positive motivation to do something.

That is, your hermit must face something that makes it impossible for him to avoid being bothered by society unless he actively does something. This can be anything from scaring off people to winning a decree that anyone who comes on his land is trespassing.

Which works best depends on the story, and what he needs to do for it.

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