Everyone is afraid of something. Sometimes it’s something common like spiders or heights. Sometimes it’s something that few people have heard of like Papyrophobia – the irrational fear of wet paper, or just paper in general.
What are you afraid of?
I had a conversation with my sister yesterday after having nearly been attacked by a spider in my car (I narrowly escaped with my life) about what we are actually afraid of. I like most people, cannot stand spiders. She hates bugs that fly. For me, it’s about something so small with so many legs – I don’t know why, it just creeps me out. For my sister, it’s about things being able to fly into her face, or land in her hair that send her over the edge. That got me thinking…what are my characters truly afraid of?
Today’s Cure for Writer’s Block focuses on fear. What are you afraid of, what are your characters afraid of? Of course, you can do this for yourself if you don’t have a specific character in mind. Or, if you are trying to get to know your characters better, you can use these questions to flesh out their back-story and motivations.
Now, most of us might be afraid of spiders (they are dreadful things), but that won’t send us running for a therapist. I am not suggesting that you construct your characters with a debilitating fear or phobia, unless that’s the focus of the plot – think the movie Copycat with Sigourney Weaver from the 90’s.
It’s engaging to the reader to watch a character grow through your story. Fear gives our characters life, it humanizes them. As the writer, it’s important for you point out their flaws and fears, and demonstrate how the character will overcome or conquer them through their character arc. So here are some questions to get your creative juices flowing. If you can truly identity what fear is motivating your characters, your plot will be much more engaging.
Click here for a list of the Top 30 Most Common Fears.
Questions for your Characters
- What is he/she most afraid of?
- Is this a rational or irrational fear?
- Why does he/she have this fear?
- Are they afraid of commitment?
- Are they afraid of failure?
- What experience has caused them to have this fear?
- Did they always know they were afraid of this?
- Do others know of your character’s fear?
- What happens when the character is confronted with this fear?
- What will he/she have to do to overcome this fear?
Questions for You
- What are you most afraid of?
- Does anyone know of your fear?
- Write ten sentences starting with the words, ‘I fear…’
- What happens when you are faced with your fear?
- How does this fear make you feel?
- When did you have the last feeling of fear?
- On a scale of 1-10, how bad was your last encounter with your fear?
- How did you react to this fear? (i.e. anger, shame, inferior…)
Let me know what you come up with.
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