Monday, February 18, 2008

Fears, part 2. Clarification

Since Janet Reid linked to my post about writing your fears, I've gotten a fair few hits from other writers...and some interesting questions. I think I need to clarify what I meant, a little.

A fellow writer thought I was saying that you should create a plot based on your own fears, and "force" your characters to face them. Like an issue book, dark and dismal and sad.

No no no no no no no no. No.

I despise issue books. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. For one thing, I don't even like to read dark and dismal and sad books, personally. I like adventure, a little romance, possibly fantasy. Struggles, yes, but I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

Also, IMO any book that is forced or twisted to suit the author's own agenda will fail as a good story. It will not resonate with anyone, because you will be trying to convince instead of telling a story, and the story will almost certainly get lost along the way.

What I was saying (or trying to say) is that you shouldn't veer away from allowing your characters to face fears straight-on--that real, deep characterization can come, partly, from facing real fears. Everyday, universal fears, that everyone experiences and can understand. I was trying to say that it is natural that your characters will experience these fears--and you should let them.

Not that because you have a fear of closets that you should stuff your character into one just to see how she deals with it.

Does that make sense?

(I hope so, but it's difficult to tell, as I've been trying to type this while Child asks me questions every few seconds. I am now in Deep Trouble because I missed "drawing time") :)


brenda said...

Oh, I so remember what it was like when my boys were little. It could go from heaven to hell and back to heaven in less than five minutes! When I began to write when the kids were small I really knew what it felt like to face the unknown (having kids to raise is a huge fear when one has no clue.) I knew I could write that because I really knew what my 'unknown' felt like. Sure I was writing about a warrior fighting battles with sword and skill, nothing like the daily battles I was fighting. But I knew what it was like to be on the edge of life and death. I had been there with my two-year-old who stopped breathing and needed CPR. Yes he survived, but I have never been so frightened or acted so swiftly. None of my plots are about a mother with kids, but that doesn't matter. My kids have helped me get in the zone in more ways than they could ever guess.

Susan Adrian said...


Yes. I'm not sure I knew what fear was until I had a child. As a friend said, it's like letting your heart walk around on its own. {s}

Good for you for putting that emotional honesty into your writing! I'm sure it's better for it.