Fear and Making Our Characters Real

Fear is a part of life.  It is what drives us to run for the hills, or the bathroom, or your husband, or a shoe.  My irrational fear of spiders is what has caused me to have a huge knot on my shin and nightmares last night.  I will not be cleaning out my basement for another month or two.  DO NOT, I repeat do not believe a man when they tell you “it’s fall, all the spiders are dead.”  Dead my foot.  Mr. Creepy-Crawly attacked me and is now in the bottom of a trash bag – don’t worry pro-spider people.  He isn’t dead.  One large, extra strong, ultra puncture-proof trash bag and some very interesting maneuvering got the spider and his  home into the bag without making contact.  I am not proud, I fully admit I screamed loudly, jumped around frantically, did the whole “ew” shake my hands thing, and in the end I survived.

These kinds of experiences make characters seem alive, more real.  Everyone has to be afraid of something and sometimes that fear defines them.  In romance the fear that drives your character is generally nothing like in a horror book, it just wouldn’t be believable.  For me my characters fears are something that I too fear because I can speak from first hand experience.  My characters will never be spider friendly and most likely will never go gallivanting in a dark basement – unless I need her to have a heart attack.  Those are fears a lot of people, mostly women can relate to and I tend to use them for a break from the romantic story.  I write contemporary romance.  Romances set in today’s world.  I write about an everyday woman who goes through some sort of extreme situation.  Hopefully her random fears help you relate to her even if you won’t ever be in her predicament.  Sometimes a fear such as loss or failure can actually be the driving force for the story.

When you add real elements to your story, such as fears, make sure you are thinking of your audience.  Vampires most likely won’t fear a poisonous spider, Superman will always hate kryptonite, Elizabeth Bennett won’t ever fear a zombie (well actually in recent book releases she might.)  Fear can add comic relief, a driving force, or just creepy elements.

What fears do you instill in your characters?  Where do you pull them from and what are your trying to accomplish by your fear of choice? 

<Creepy Laugh> Happy Halloween Week


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