The Big Secret About Fear

"Well, since I'm a writer, I guess my final words should really sparkle . . ."

THE BIG SECRET about fear that gets under-used is that we writers have the perfect opportunity to use fear to our advantage.

Our fear helps us recognize and describe complexities where others would never even look. Combine this with a writer’s natural powers of expression and you have a huge, untapped source of energy for your writing.

You can road-test this idea using one of the Fertile Material writing prompts from Fear of Writing. While exploring the storyline, you’ll have a chance to lend some of your anxieties and complexities to fictional characters . . . and, rest assured, they will take over and know exactly how to use it! Characters can be bossy like that.


Here’s a good serious one to get you started:

    Cliffhanger You’re out hiking in the mountains. Some shale slips under your feet, and suddenly you’re sliding down a steep embankment. Describe how you feel as you slide. It’s a rough landing and you are injured. How do your companions react? Are you calm or upset? Is your speech lucid? You need help right away. How can the nearest Search & Rescue team be notified? When they do arrive, how do you feel about your rescuers? Describe how they bring you to safety. What effect does this mishap have on your life?

    Excerpted from Fear of Writing by Milli Thornton Copyright © 1999

Or, you can use one of the sillier prompts and give your characters exaggerated fears:

    Roach Lover You are a cockroach sympathizer giving a speech at a rally for animal rights.

    Excerpted from Fear of Writing by Milli Thornton Copyright © 1999

Have fun! ~ Milli

4 Responses to The Big Secret About Fear
  1. Joseph Greene
    October 5, 2009 | 11:17 AM

    Agreed. Fear is by far the most powerful of our emotions. Meant to keep us safe. But it can also just close us up. Using it to write… quite a concept…

  2. judy
    October 5, 2009 | 12:05 PM

    I so believe this. Now I just have to leap. Thank you for the reminder!

  3. Marilyn J Agee
    October 9, 2009 | 4:53 PM

    All tied up on Oct. 15 but I’m planning on Sat. 24.

  4. Lois
    October 13, 2009 | 8:23 PM

    It’s funny. I never thought of using fear this way. 🙂

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