What are you afraid of?

afraidEveryone has fears. Some things made us so afraid they are phobias and have clinical names for them. Pediaphobia – fear of dolls.  Claustrophobia – fear of closed places.  Or my personal fear – Gephyrophobia – fear of crossing bridges.

As writers we need to give our characters fears too.  How they deal with them is what shows what they are made of – do they let their fears dictate their lives, do they get help, or do they use immersion therapy to deal with them.  Immersion therapy is when you face your fears head on, surrounding yourself with dolls, locking yourself in the closet, or going over a dozen bridges in one day to get over your fear.

If you are a reader, do you like your characters in your books to have some fear to make them human?

If you are a writer, do you add fear to your character’s make-up to make them three-dimensional and real?

Jill James

8 thoughts on “What are you afraid of?

  1. I definitely think giving a character fears makes them more relatable and multidimensional. A fear of intimacy, fear of being hurt, fear of failing, even a fear of water or spiders–makes them HUMAN. 🙂

  2. ewww, fear of spiders. LOL

    I read a book once with a very brave Navy SEAL guy but he had a fear of heights. It made him seem more believable instead of Mr. Tough Guy with no fears.

  3. Most of the time I don’t start out with any impression of my character at all, and as the rough draft progresses I begin to understand her fears/desires well enough to make the rewrite so much more vivid. I don’t believe in starting the story with a framework set in stone of what the character must be afraid of/love. (I tried it once in a NaNoWriMo novel. Dictating at the beginning she’d fall in love with an insane horseman. She ended up knocking him out, stealing his horse, and leaving him for dead in the middle of nowhere–this was supposed to be the romantic scene. Guess she no like him?)

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog. It is funny sometimes how our characters take over. But you can be writing along and suddenly something hits you, like: he has a dangerous job so I’ll make her afraid of losing people, and it all works out. I love when that happens.

  5. Fear is a powerful emotion. It can cause one to react out of character and take those surrounding them by surprise. Recently, a friend of a friend was at my house, and she has a fear of cats, unbeknowst to me, and I thought she was going to climb the walls at the sight of my little tuxedo kitty, who simply wanted in the house.
    It took me by surprise and her emotions over the situation was very powerful and real. The cat stayed outside, until she left, and I doubt she’ll be back, more out of embarrassment, because as she said, she didn’t know I had a cat, and wasn’t prepared, and the fear gripped her like a vice. It scared me too.

  6. Good question Jill. I always try to give that big conflict with a fear in it. Most the time it has to do with the fear of loving again b/c I write women’s fiction with strong romantic elements.
    Personally!-I HATE PITCH DARK! It did play a part in my last novel. I was having a hard time connecting with my heroine b/c she was so out of the box for me and I had her fear the dark and it brought me alot closer to her and her story.

  7. Tonya, thanks for visiting the blog. I like that your heroine’s fear brought her closer to you. I think that works for readers too. They have to feel something in common with the character to really get into the story.

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