Use Fear For Good In Your Work

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What do your characters fear?

Fear is such a wonderful motivator for characters – with both positive and  negative connotations.  Nine times out of ten when a character reacts out of fear it’s going to be worth watching. Fear is captivating because it’s a primal human emotion: Do you know someone who won’t do something because of fear? Who won’t get on stage, or get on an airplane? Who won’t make life changes because they fear the outcome? And on the other side, do you know someone who works to counter a fear – a fear of turning out like their parents? Or a fear of becoming poor? And what about that climactic moment when a character decides to stand up and face their fear? What an exciting moment! When they stand up to their overbearing boss, or jump off the cliff, or walk out the door. The possibilities are endless. These are the traits that make characters three-dimensional and interesting.

Exercise:

It’s important to know what your characters fear, even if it never directly ends up in your script. It will definitely effect how they act in your work and how you write for them. Knowing what your characters fear will make your writing specific, and that never hurts. Take your main character and answer the following questions:

  • What does this character fear?
  • What is the origin of this fear?
  • How do they act when they think about this fear?
  •  How does the fear affect this character’s life?
  • Does any other character know about this fear? Does that bother your main character?
  • Will this character ever be free of this fear? Why or why not?