Everyone is afraid of something, most are afraid of many things. I’ve always had a fear of needles. The day I chose to confront that fear, I ended up stretched out on a bench in the middle of the mall. According to my sister, a crowd quickly formed. One man asked if he should call 911. As a teenager, my sister was mortified. She told the concerned man, “No, she just got her ears pierced.”
Fear humanizes us. As a species, it’s something we all share. When I develop a character I need to know her fears. A character without fear is automatically unbelievable and more difficult for a reader to make a connection. The fear could be something as simple as a fear of worms to something more integrated into the plot, such as a fear of dying alone.
Discovering what my character fears, why, and how she overcomes or tries and fails to overcome her fear, will tell a lot about her. These discoveries will contribute relevant elements to my plot. Fear is a powerful emotion and when it comes to character development, the possibilities are endless.
In everyday life, people deal with fear in different ways. Some conquer them by purposely exposing themselves to the things they most fear. A person with a fear of fire may decide to become a fireman. Now he runs toward the fire instead of away. As for me and my fear of needles, being a Crohn’s patient has forced me to face that fear. Every six weeks I receive intravenous infusions which often take a few attempts before the needle finds the vein. So far, I’ve never fainted.
With Halloween right around the corner, tell me, what are you afraid of?