Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are you Afraid?


It's blog chain time and this time Kat brought us a question perfect for Halloween:

What are the primary fears that drive your characters? Do they battle aliens or gangsters or monsters? Or do they battle unreconciled issues in their lives? Which do you prefer writing about? What do you fear?

Okay, so fear. I think most writers would admit to having some pretty big fears, because it kind of goes hand in hand with that whole overactive imagination thing. It does not, in my case at least, take a lot to get that imagination going either. A horror movie will do it - actually I just can't sit through horror movies anymore - I literally shake and cower during the suspenseful parts, cover my eyes entirely during the gory sections, and for days afterward have trouble walking into dark rooms. Or a news article about a dry drowning can make me even more neurotic than ever about letting my son anywhere near a swimming pool.

Now with my own fears, I use my worrying almost as a neurotic type of shield - like it will keep all the bad things that I imagine away. Or I try to find actual physical ways to make life safer - whether that consists of making sure the doors are locked at night (Actually this is my husband's job, but sometimes if I hear a funny noise outside I'll ask him, "did you make sure you locked the doors?" Sometimes, if I'm feeling especially nervous I'll put in a request for him to double check. For the record, he does not seem to appreciate this.) or putting some padded foam onto a sharp counter corner in the kitchen (I actually just did this today - my son kept banging his head on it, and I didn't want it to get to the point where he banged it so hard he needed stitches or lost an eye. Yes, I know. I really am neurotic.)

However, my characters are not so lucky. There are no locked doors or safe foam corners for them. As soon as I know what my characters fear most, then I know exactly what will happen to them.

Fear of fire? Grab some matches.

Arachnophobia? Bring on the mutant spiders. A

fraid you'll turn into your mother? Then it's time for some Freaky Friday action.

Whether the fears are internal or external I want to be constantly nudging my characters towards the edge of the cliff, until there's nowhere to go but down... and then I found out how they deal with falling.

So, what do you fear? What do your characters fear? And do you push your characters towards their fears too?

And for more blog chain fun you can find Rebecca's post before mine and Amanda's directly after.

17 comments:

  1. I am brutal to my characters...they are faced to face fear in every story, at every turn. Great post!

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  2. Yes, I push my characters toward their fears. I usually do internal but this is a good reminder that external fears are effective too. :-)

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  3. Worry is good if it makes you take steps to avoid the problem; it's when the worry is out of proportion to the problem that the worry becomes a problem itself. As you say, it's a drawback to being able to imagine and foresee consequences.

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  4. I make many of my characters face their worst fears, sometimes internal and sometimes external. My MC right now has a fear of telling the truth about who she really is. The only person she's never been able to lie to is the boy she fell in love with when she was a teenager. But she ends up lying to him about who she is, about going to jail, and a few other things. And he's going to find out! I'm going to make her take responsibility for those lies--even though she's going to run away first :D

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  5. Ooh, I like the idea of nudging them toward the edge of a cliff. That is a great way to show that they have to face their fears.

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  6. I cannot, nor have ever been able to, watch a horror movie. I blame it on my overactive imagination. I will have nightmares for weeks.
    Great post!

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  7. "Arachnophobia? Bring on the mutant spiders."

    NOOOOOOOOO!!! :S

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  8. I don't use this enough. I'm usually so worried about their interal commitment fears. Good to keep in mind!

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  9. Nudging your characters toward their fears is a great way to nudge yourself! I find that I've been able to face my fears through my characters.

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  10. "As soon as I know what my characters fear most, then I know exactly what will happen to them."

    LOL that is too awesome. It's so much fun to torture our poor characters ;-D Great post!

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  11. No mutant spiders for me, please.

    :-)

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  12. Well, you certainly like to torture your characters. Mutant spiders ranks up there pretty high on my list of things that scare the crap out of my, too.

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  13. When I'm writing character sketches, "Fears?" is always one of the biggest questions, because I know that the answer will drive much of the story. We are what we fear. Or at least our characters often are. ;)

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  14. I write best after dealing with the usual depression that comes when I'm reminded of my condition every time I purchase my meds at www.ORderDrugs.ca. And as though possessed, I tend to gravitate toward complex psychological issues where emotional baggages borne of traumatic childhood experiences come to haunt them in real life. And needless to say, the conflict is whether or not they would manage to overcome their own fear as it takes on a concrete or seemingly concrete form.

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  15. been a long time since we've seen you at PC! Hope you are doing well.
    Happy holidays.
    Bethanne

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  16. this is a good reminder that external fears are effective too.

    Work from home India

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