Friday, 29 July 2011


Everyone is scared of something; it’s what makes us human. Our characters should be no different – their fears show the readers that the characters are flawed humans, just like you and I.

I think that while it may be an initially simple thing to do – just choose a fear and your character is all good to go, a realistic character’s fears should be more in depth. Why do they fear what they do? Have they had a bad experience? Or is it just something about the fear that’s creepy?

My own character has a fear of spiders. She’s absolutely petrified of them, which is problematic for her, considering all the time she spends in musty old tombs, caves, and other spider breeding grounds.

Her fear stems from my own fear of spiders. Why am I scared of fears? This is why.

Look at it. I had to find this picture. Who said being a writer was easy?

According to Wikipedia, these bad boys live in tropical areas, including… well, a map shows they live pretty much everywhere where it isn’t cold. Wikipedia says that Huntsmen spiders can be “beneficial” because they feed on insects and most Australians release rather than kill. (Not me. If I face off with a Huntsman, the encounter ends with the Huntsman’s mouth filled with insect repellent or with a heavy object in its brain.)


Anyway, all characters need fears. They can directly relate to the plot (I don’t have an example), but they don’t have to. Take Indiana Jones’s fear of snakes. It doesn’t directly relate to the plots of any of the films, but he seems to encounter them often anyway.

That’s all I’ve got on fears today, so for the comments, what are you scared of? What about your characters, and why? Also, if you know of any spider-killing methods that don’t require me to be in the same room as the spider, let me know.


  1. Mind powers. Definitely. Like, X-Men style.

    Are you afraid of Spiderman? ;P

    Good post, though. I really love giving my characters fears. I probably find too much pleasure in the activity, actually. >.> But it's true. Giving them fears makes them more than just boring old cardboard cutouts.

  2. Killing a spider while not in the same room as the spider is super easy. You get someone else to do it. =P My personal favorite method is to stand just outside the doorway and scream "RENEEEEE!" until she comes with a paper towel or flat shoe to dispatch the little terror. That picture makes me glad I live in Alaska. I'm pretty sure we don't have those. O_o

    Anyway, as for character fears, I'd say one is afraid of himself, which is really fun to work with. =) And I have one that's kind of afraid of lizards and horses, but I should really solidify fears for the others. Great post!

  3. Constance: You're afraid of mind powers? I've never heard of anyone scared of that! :P I'm not scared of Spiderman, but maybe it's because I know that under that costume is a dweeby kid!

    Amanda: I usually call for my brother, but I think he gets sick of killing things for me... I might have to move to Alaska!

  4. I like this post. I was actually just thinking about this last week as I was going over the fear department with my characters, figuring out what they're afraid of.

    Personally, I'm not afraid of much. I admit to being quite a baby when it comes to red wasps, but as far as being petrified of something... not so much.

    When I was younger I was "afraid of the dark" ... and not so much that it was just darkness, but more afraid of what might be lurking in the darkness. Also sometimes afraid that something would touch me or grab me. Oh, and wolves. I was afraid of wolves.

    So I tend to incorporate those fears into my characters often, because I can understand them. When something evil is lurking, I like to have it in the dark, because it's unknown what's out there and I can relate to the fear an MC would feel at that. Same with wolves. I once wrote a terrible flesh-eating wolf into one of my stories, because I could relate to how the sound of a wolf howling would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

    I also like to use fear of death as a big, basic one. While I'm not afraid of death personally, I'll use it anyway, just because I can relate to fear of the unknown.

    ALL THAT TO SAY, fear is a big one when I'm writing, and I like to play with it. I've never written a character who isn't afraid of SOMETHING, because -- I agree -- I think it's crucial.

    *stares at long texts*

    I'm writing really long blog comments tonight. I think it's time for bed.

  5. Lizzy: *stares at long comment too* This is blog post length! :)

    You raise an interesting point about being afraid of what's *in* the darkness. I think people aren't so much afraid of what they say they're scared of, but rather something associated with it. People aren't afraid of heights, but rather falling. People aren't scared of the ocean, but rather drowning/creatures that live in there. I'm not scared of spiders, but rather them crawling on me/biting me. I'd say you're not scared of wolves, but rather being attacked by one.

    Thanks for your comment!

  6. @Scribbler *laughs* Should I post it on my blog? Hehe. JK.

    And I think you're right. That's exactly what it is. (I AM afraid of the creatures in the ocean! O_O You just reminded me). And yes, definitely being attacked by a wolf.

    I'll definitely be pondering this one. It's fascinating.

  7. Lizzy: I've really become fascinated with fears since writing this post. I think one could really go in depth with this kind of thing.