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:~: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 :~:


Almost everyone is afraid of something. I'm afraid of heights. Very afraid. I can't look down from my second story deck without getting a sick feeling in my stomach. I remember being a child and taking a trip to the Sears Tower with my parents. They got a little upset when I wouldn't move two feet away from the elevator doors to look out over the city with the rest of my family.

I'm also afraid of spiders. When there's one in the house, my oldest son has to take care of it for me because I'm such a wimp.

I know these two fears very well, have lived with them for years, and yet I rarely write such fears into my characters. Actually, I very rarely give my characters real internal fears. Their fright generally comes from outside sources. Giving fears and phobias to characters can add another layer of depth, but for some reason I don't often think to give them those traits. I think, for me at least, I'm not getting to know my characters as well as I should.

Do you have any fears or phobias? Do you give them to your characters?


Blogger Linda Winfree said...

I'm afraid of snakes, high bridges over deep water and heights to an extent.

My characters don't normally have fear about things -- it's more of a fear of loss, fear of failure, etc.; although I do have a heroine who is afraid of the dark (more of who might be hiding in the dark than the dark itself).

Maybe I should make my big bad Army hero in my current novel afraid of spiders, LOL.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Oh, yeah. I love fear! Love torturing my characters with fear. Internal and external. and I especially love to tangle them together.

For example, I gave Rio (hero in Safe) a fear of knives (external). His fear of knives stems from a history of watching his sister die from a slashed throat (internal).

And to take it just a couple steps further, because I'm a masochist when it comes to my characters, I give him a scene where he has to face an enemy with a knife to keep the heroine safe (and subsequently gets sliced up), and also gave the heroine a history of having been attacked by someone with a knife which left physical scars -- another issue for my hero to deal with.


11:28 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Oh, and my fears??

Creatures aren't quite a fear...they more freak me out--spiders and big flying insects and lizards, but mice, oh, mice....***shiver***

Something that does actually *scare* me is the ocean - or any body of water that is over my head and where I can't see the bottom -- that terrifies me. Have no idea why.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

I HATE mice! It's a long story, but don't even shove Mickey Mouse ears at me! I hate the creatures!

I gave a hero in one of my books the fear of heights and then he had to traverse down a cliff to save the heroine.

And in one book, the heroine was scared of water and couldn't swim- you guessed it- the boat she was in capsized.

But lately, I haven't been using those types of fears in characters. Maybe I should.

Thanks for a thought enhancing post!

11:32 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Oh, Paty -- we're speaking the same language girl!!

3:09 PM  
Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

I am afraid of... Don't laugh...


Butterflies I'm cool with, so I don't know where this whole moth-phobia thing came from. I've spent years getting over it, so I can now safely be in the same room with a moth without screaming. Oh, and I'm afraid of suffocation. No sleeping with the blankets over my head. Ever.

I haven't given any of my characters irrational fears. The situation hasn't seemed to call for it yet.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

B.E. -- me too --- that's the flying insects part, although I know moths aren't technically insects (are they?). But moths and huge mosquito eaters. Ick!!

6:36 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

I don't like things touching my feet. Wigs me out and makes me think of creepy-crawlies. I don't like snakes or spiders, though I'm only afraid of the really big ones. I never thought I was afraid of mice until one ran across my kitchen. I screamed like a little girl and jumped on the counter (DH shook his head and rolled his eyes). I don't like heights either. Airplanes don't bug me, but being on the roof putting up the Christmas lights scares the bugeezus out of me. Mostly I'm afraid of things happening...like if I were to drive the car off a bridge, how would I get all three of my kids out of the car? (DH is on his own.)

I haven't given many of my characters fears, although it's a great thing to think about. The hero in my last book was sort of afraid of guns. But only because in his line of work people end up dead that way. LOL

Great post, Elisa, and definitely something I'll think about.

9:11 PM  
Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

Yup, Joan, moths are insects. :shudder: It's the whole 'six legs, three body parts' thing... ewww. Another harmless bug that totally freaks me out is cicadas. (And right now, with the 17-year hatch going on, they're all over the news.)

7:20 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Oh, that reminds me...GRASSHOPPERS. I hate grasshoppers.

We're definitely on the same page, B.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Linda--I hate bridges, too. They don't freak me out as much as they used to when I was a kid, but they still bug me. LOL on the spiders.

J--the fear of knives is very cool. I love how you worked it into the story.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Paty--I love the idea of their worst fears becoming their reality. Definitely a way to torture the characters (and I do love torturing my characters *g*)

B.E.--I don't mind moths too much. We get a lot of them in the house and I do okay with ignoring them. My daughter loves them. When she was three, she found a huge dead one on the beach one day and decided to name it Deady. She wanted to take it home, but there was no way that was happening.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Eli--I agree about things crawling over my feet. Gives me the shivers. I hate airplanes. I don't know if it's the enclosed space or what, but I just hate flying. My dad, an FAA inspector, gets a pretty big kick out of it.

It's tough being on a plane with my kids. I don't want to pass the fear on to them, but if turbulence hits I tend to close my eyes and tell everyone to stop talking to me until things settle down. *g*

3:28 PM  

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