Who is your character afraid of?


It’s been a busy couple of weeks and getting busier as we enter into the Holiday Season. As I continue to work on my NaNoWriMo project, other ideas show themselves, and old ideas reappear whispering strongly, ‘hey don’t forget about me,’ which I haven’t forgotten, I will admit that I have neglected the ideas, letting my ego win the better of me and creativity. I have to be honest here, it’s the only way I can get to the page. When I am writing, I am here, fully and completely. When I am not writing, I can see the string that connects me the page get longer and stretch to the point that it snaps away and I’m left with an empty feeling. The good thing is I am very aware of this sensation and I quickly grab a pen and start writing long hand to get me right back to the moment, pen to paper, words start to flow. My anxiety of not writing disappears.


One of my works in progress is about three friends, two guys and one girl. The girl and one of the guys dated in high-school and the first year of university, then they break up over life choices and personality differences that no longer can be ignored. Both the girl and guy fear they will never find such a love again. Then years later the girl and the other guy friend have a secret love affair. After a few months into their passionate affair the fear of the other friend finding out runs deep for both the girl and guy that they end their relationship, with another fear of never finding that love again. Not to give anything away, there are moments of happily ever after, but then crisis arises and that fairy-tale ending is shattered by fear.


I love writing prompts and The Observations deck by Naomi Epel is great for sparking creativity. Naomi shares the following about locating the fear:

According to Dr. Robert Maurer, professor of psychology at UCLA, fear lies at the centre of all great fiction. Every character is afraid of something – of loss, of failure, of success, of being unmasked – and the drama is to be found in how each character copes with his or her fears. 


In order to give your characters depth and your stories dramatic tension, your must determine what your characters fear and how they deal with it. Think about someone you know or someone you are currently writing about. You can pick a person you see on the street or a character you are creating. What is this person afraid of? Is it fear of being poor or growing fate? Is it fear of being hurt or of hurting another person? Make a list of ten or fifteen things which a character might be afraid of.

Think of the ways your characters deal with their fears. Do they face them head on or run away? Do they drown themselves in alcohol or try to forget through sex? Do they invite trouble into their lives, or create safe but dull existences?


I use my experiences revolving around fear that shape some of my characters. I use to be the person who didn’t like confrontation one bit. I would avoid any kind of negative conversation just to keep things at a balance. Well we all know this doesn’t work, so through my characters I become stronger. How I wanted to deal with stressful situations, person drama, was now how my characters would deal with it, but then there was a time that I didn’t like how wishy-washy my heroine was and I broke the balance. My heroine stood up fer herself, spoke her mind and she didn’t die of embarrassment (what she thought would happen), and all of a sudden I was becoming a little more vocal when crisis’s showed up and then I was sharing that I don’t mind dealing with confrontation and now employees come to me to learn how to deal with stressful situations. Writing, once again saved me.


Now, what are my characters afraid of? They are afraid of losing their friendship to one another. How will that look on the page? How will they share their fears to one another? Why are they afraid of losing one another? There are so many questions to be answered and that will shape these characters and the story that they want to share. The creative process is great!


What are your current characters afraid of? What are you afraid of? How do you get through to the other side of fear? What lies beyond the fear? For me, it’s the truth about writing, how it fills me up with joy and peace. How I love to tell a story and share with others. I am so grateful that creativity has chosen me to work through, so I better not ignore or neglect those ideas any longer. Time to get back to the writing.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .



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