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Creative Writing Essay On Fear

Fear has its use but cowardice has none.
&#;Mohandas Gandhi


One thing is a certainty when writing fiction: be sure your character has a fear, whether or not he acknowledges it on the inside or shows it on the outside. In life, we all are afraid of something coming from a personal experience we may or may not remember. Your character is no different. A fear, or the resulting belief your character has stemming from the fear, drives your protagonist and therefore, the story.

Many times the crux of a story is the moment a character faces his fear. The outcome can be either tragic (the fear wins by paralyzing him or he turns away) or happy (he is able to overcome his worst fear to save the day) or somewhere in between.

There are many ways to find out a character&#;s fear, but one fun way to approach it (fear can be fun? Yes!) is to use it as a motivation to write and discover what sort of story you can develop with a fear at the core of your idea. I&#;m betting Rod Serling and Stephen King have used this technique a time or two.

Gandhi was right…fear has its use, so use it as a creative writing prompt. Look through the following fears, choose one for your character, then begin answering the questions following the fear list (steps two and three) and let your story flow.

Step One: Choose a fear from the list below

Emotional Fear—write a story about someone who is afraid of:

Anger (or becoming angry)
Being laughed at
Being forgotten (or ignored)
Being hated
Being touched
Being useless
The dark (actual or figurative? Spiritual?)
Disorder or chaos
Falling in love
Ideas or anything new
Leaving the house
Loss of control
Loss of functionality
Making decisions
Making a mistake

Physical Fear—write a story about someone who is afraid of:
Animals (in general or a specific one)
Being a victim
Being buried alive
Clowns (had to include that oneJ)
Confined spaces
Crossing bridges
Dead things
Disease or germs
Dolls (or puppets)
Extreme cold (snow, freezing temperatures, ice)
Falling asleep
Ghosts or spirits
Growing old
The night
Public speaking (who isn&#;t?)
Saints, priests, nuns or holy icons
Storms (thunder and lightning)
Water (bodies of, moving, or bathing)

Step Two: Ask the following questions:

What happened in his childhood for the character to learn this fear?
Did the fear come from an actual event or was it learned from another person?
Is his fear real or is it irrational?
Is his fear physical, and if so are there emotional reasons behind it?
Is his fear emotional, and if so is there a real reason behind it?
Does he recognize or acknowledge his fear, or is he in denial?
How does this fear manifest and outwardly affect him?
What does he do to hide this fear from others?
Do others know about his fear or is he able to hide it?
How does it change his life?
How far will he go to avoid facing this fear?
Does he seek treatment or help?

In first person, let the character describe the fear and tell you what is so terrifying about it. Let him say it in his own words.

Step Three: Ask these questions to start your story

In light of this fear, what is the worst thing that can happen to this character?
Does he face his fear? How?
Or does he turn away and hide from it?
What will he lose if he can&#;t face it?
What will he lose if he does face it?

Step Four: Keep writing

Use fear as a positive force in your writing. Start with a character with a fear, follow him, and watch your story develop.

[author] [author_image timthumb=&#;on&#;]woaknb.wz.sk[/author_image] [author_info]Award-winning novelist Kathy Steffen teaches fiction writing and speaks at writing programs across the country. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, Between the Lines. Her books, FIRST THERE IS A RIVER, JASPER MOUNTAIN and THEATER OF ILLUSION are available online and at bookstores everywhere. [/author_info] [/author]

Free Creative Writing Prompts # Fears

Don't be afraid of the free creative writing prompts about your deepest and darkest fears. While there are few among us who have legitimate clinical phobias, most of us have a handful of things that we tend to be afraid of. It may be something common like speaking in public or may be something less run of the mill like household cats. When fears are overcome, people can feel brave like they can make anything happen. When fears overwhelm, a person may let his life slip away from them in moment after moment of cowardice. Use fear in your writing in discussing characters or yourself.

Free Creative Writing Prompts: Fears

1. Name five things that you are personally afraid of in order of most fearful to least. Why are you afraid of those things in particular? What would change about your life if you conquered those fears? How do you think you'd be able to do it?

2. Think back to a time when your fears preventing you from doing something you wanted to do. For example, after all of your friends jumped off the high rock platform, you wanted to prove yourself but couldn't because of fear. Do you think that your fear helped or hurt you in that instance and why?

3. Imagine that you were alive in ancient times with your same fight or flight response having to battle the perilous dangers of the uncivilized world. Do you think that you would be successful facing such scary challenges or that you would be too modernized to stand much of a chance?

4. List five different phobias that you've heard of or try to make a few up. Write a little story for each about how your life would be different if you had that particular phobia. What normal activities might you not be able to participate in due to your clinical fears?

5. As you're walking down the street you come upon a mirror that makes you look about 20 years older. Suddenly, you realize it's not a mirror, but it's actually you from the future, coming to help you face your greatest fears to avoid a later in life calamity! What does this future self help you with and are the two of you successful?

6. Was there ever someone during elementary, middle or high school who you were genuinely afraid of? Imagine that you have come face to face with this person during a situation in which you couldn't leave the room and had to talk to him or her for an extended period of time. What would happen and would you continue to remain afraid after the encounter?

7. A lot of people are more afraid of death than they are anything else. Why do you think so many people list death as their number one fear? Where do you rank it in the fears of your life and how do you think the fear of death has shaped who you are today?

8. For those who are afraid of public speaking, the time-honored suggestion of picturing the audience in their underwear has been made over and over again. If you had to add any other tips to someone who was afraid of speaking to a room, what would they be and how have you used them to your own benefit?

9. In the Nightmare on Elm Street movie series, an evil and scorned former school employee attacks students in their sleep by bringing their worst fears to life. What would your encounter with such a freaky individual be like and which of your fears would spring at you in a deadly fashion?

How would the world be different if humans had a constant fight or flight response to any stimulus, much like birds or insects? How would your day be different if you were scared of anything and everything around you all the time? 

Done with Free Creative Writing Prompts about Fear? Go back to Creative Writing Prompts. 

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    Written by Bryan Cohen

    Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20, copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.

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