Friday, March 19, 2010

Facing Your Fears!

*First posted October 26, 2009

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

In my book, Legacy of the Empress, my characters have issues. Astrid, my heroine, spent the last ten years of her childhood locked away in a tower room. Her mother imprisoned her when she was eight after murdering her courtiers and usurping the throne using dark magic (what a bitch, right?). When Astrid escapes and finds the magic consuming the land and its people, she fears two things:

1) Being locked up again

2) Her mother killing more innocents before she can stop her.

Torin, the boy who joins her quest to find an ancient Empress and defeat the dark magic, has his own set of fears:

1) Living an unremarkable life

2) Letting Astrid down.

He longs to be something more, a hero, and sees himself as Astrid's protector on her journey. When he is weakened (no spoilers!), he struggles with feeling useless--a burden instead of a warrior.

I prefer writing about internal fears because those are the ones that haunt us the longest. We all have them: those tapes in our heads that tell us things we wish we didn't believe, but struggle with on a daily basis. We long to realize these fears and rise above them, to change the tapes to say what we want them to say. Instead of hearing "I'm not good enough," we want to hear "I'm good enough the way that I am!" It takes a journey to get there, though, and we're afraid of failing ourselves the most of all.

I read this quote the other day, and it really spoke to me:

"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are."– Don Miguel Ruiz

We want to change, to better ourselves, but that requires a journey, and sometimes, a painful sacrifice. That conflict makes for some great storytelling, don't you think? :)

As for myself, some of my greatest fears include:

1) Losing loved ones before I'm ready to

2) Sliding down mountains (a weird phobia)

3) Living a fearful life and dying with regrets

The first one I can't control, the second is odd and means I don't like skiing, and the third is up to me. Regrets are for pussies! I can choose to follow my dreams, even if it means risking failure, and dammit all, I'm going to!

What about you? What fears do you characters face? What fears do you face in your everyday life?


Dawn Embers said...

Great topic for the blog. I don't often have an easy answer on something like this but in my current wip, that is different. The main character, Noah, is afraid of becoming a weapon. He knows what he is capable of with his genetic mutation and refused to let anyone know or do anything with it because he could easily be used as a weapon.

Iapetus999 said...

You're hitting me where it hurts. No skiing? Seriously?
I could tell you skiing stories that would make your skin crawl and your belly ache.
The MC in my current WIP fears she is headed for a common life when she believes she is destined for better. Now this may not sound super dramatic, but her real fear is that she is nothing.

Here's the thing. You must make your characters face their worst fears. And I've come up with a twist that throws this right in her face, making her deal with being less than nothing.

Candyland said...

On a personal note, dying, or losing someone close has always been a great fear of mine and I'm sure I've lost out on living at times because of it.

As per my character, Caty, her worst fear is confronting the stepfather who put her through hell growing up. But she also knows to do so, will set her free.

Fear drives us, often times, too much. But it doesn't have to be what defines us.

A. Grey said...

Evernow, the MC of my YA EVERNOW is mostly afraid of:
Hurting people.
Being forced into the confines of what is considered 'normal'.

As for me, I'm afraid of:
Dying never having been published and thinking that no one will ever read what I've written.
Becoming predictable and reliable.

Lisa and Laura said...

Our characters face fears about being lonely, they're scared of ghosts, the unknown, being made fun of. The usual teenage stuff.

I'm terrified of ghosts, losing the people I love, and leaving this world before I've accomplished everything I want to accomplish.

Great post, Becca!