Ask Your Characters-What do you fear?

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Ask Your Characters -What do you fear?

What do you fear?

It is a good question that can have many answers which affect character behavior.

Some are superstitious fearing black cats, walking under ladders and the like.

But what about other fears?

A fear of going to the doctor can show up in visiting a relative at a hospital.

Surviving cancer can make waiting rooms difficult--I took my husband for a procedure and the waiting room was jammed(years ago not recently) and I started to panic. I was maybe 2 years past my whole cancer journey and I couldn’t sit there in the waiting room. I realized I had made my entire family and friend group wait like that for me so many times but I couldn’t stay. So I told the receptionist I would be in the hall and I sat in the hallway and talked to my friend Cheryl on the phone the entire time–good friend that one! I was so surprised at my inability to sit there. Shocked really. Things like this can inform your characters.

Do they fear funerals, weddings, or being asked to speak at one of these events? Family gatherings are fraught with pressure, unacknowledged resentments, and joy which can affect how one walks, talks, eats or doesn’t eat in those situations.

And for that matter do they fear eating certain foods, or are they averse to certain words? Hating cilantro is genetic and hating the word moist is just one of those odd things.

What about social events?

I went to a very clique filled middle school (it went through high school but I left after 9th grade) and  until I had kids I feared walking up to groups of women even when I knew most of them.

It  affected me at birthday parties and school assemblies. I was always worried I was not welcome.

What about inanimate objects or involuntary actions?

Do they avoid skiing because they fear avalanches, or avoid swimming because of that whole “you have to wear a swim suit thing”?

Do they hate the sound of chewing? (Also a genetic thing)

Do people fear guns or the people who carry them?

Do they fear hearing someone cough or sneeze? After the past year I think we all fear that! I am in Colorado which is having high covid numbers and I can’t tell you how many people I have heard cough or sneeze in the market in the past week. I am vaccinated and I had it and I still flinch walking down the frozen food aisle behind someone not in a mask who is coughing hard. And in case you want to know, I was wearing a mask.

Seriously, I like not getting sick!

How will we change and how will our characters change after covid is truly a thing of the past? What lessons have we learned about ourselves and our writing? And what lessons will we hang on to?


Consider how fears, real or imagined, cause your characters to make certain choices.

Consider how they overcome it or not.

It may take you somewhere new.

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