What scares you more than anything-- and how can you use it to enhance your writing?

Sep 30, 2011

I'm now happily hacking away at a fourth draft of TUGL. Sometimes, though, when my mind wanders, there's another story in the background that wants to be played with. Two of them, actually. I have vague ideas for them, but no real plot or character arcs. It usually takes me a lot of musing to come up with the plot that works with the idea I want.


I play the "what if" game to help me, but I also do something else: I remind myself of all the things I'm afraid of in life. When I come up with a plot that addresses my own fears, it tends to be a stronger story. 

Even little fears can help me come up with something. For example, I'm terrified of ants (I know, lame-- but they attacked me as a kid, so it's a psychological thing). Writing a story about killer ants sounds like a SyFy channel special, though. 

So I dig deeper. Seeing a single ant on the sidewalk doesn't faze me. It's the swarm that gets me. The writhing mass of tiny bodies that move as a single organism, crawling up my legs, biting me everywhere...I'm literally cringing as I write this.

Basically, behind my simple fear of ants is a fear of thousands of malevolent creatures acting as one for their own nefarious purposes. How do you defeat a swarm like that??

And voila. That's a fear I can use in my writing.

So, my friends, what are you scared of? What's the real fear behind the simple object? Have you written a story that involves one of your fears?

11 comments:

mshatch said...

well, spiders freak me out (see the associated post and *ick* picture)as do heights. Just looking down from a very high place gives me that funny shuddery feeling in my stomach. And yeah, the swarm of ants writhing as one would probably do it too, lol.

Vee said...

Interesting! Now I just have to figure out what my phobias are :)

i'm erin. said...

I'm mostly afraid of writing crap. So then I don't write. But I'm working on that. oh, And I hate fish.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I'm afraid of loosing people. Not like at the store or anything, but someone dieing. Not really a fear I think about a lot, or dwell on. But, it's there. I've used that in my writing. I love your swarming ants analogy. I'm not scared of ants, but you make me think I could be scared of them.

Abby said...

Fabulous stuff here. Ants drive me mad. I don't think I have the fear you do about them. I have used some of my fears in my writing. I am plotting an MG and working on some ideas like this right now. Very fun.

Ruth Josse said...

Chickens. Something about their beady little eyes and dryed out ugly feet. Don't like them at all. *shudder*

I don't know if I want to write about them, but maybe I could pull from my hatred.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I love how you took a specific fear and generalized it so it could be a universal theme in your writing! Brilliant post!

My fears? Large predatory animals. We live in California, and there are warnings everywhere about brown bears. I'm pretty much terrified of running into one at the local state park when I'm with my kids. I guess that's why my bad guys tend to be this ferocious, larger-than-life force of nature that seems unbeatable.

Angie said...

Ew. Creepy! I am afraid of moths. Weird, huh? My kids think it is hilarious. Also dogs, which I feel is perfectly rational. I think the biggest fear I've written about is the fear of losing a child.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I write about losing ones family and being alone in my WIP. It terrifies me.

That and the duplicitous women in the suburbs. *shivers*

Jessie Humphries said...

I'm afraid of being stabbed in my supersternal notch. Aren't we all?

DL Hammons said...

My fear revolves around the deterioration of the mind. Because I've seen it up close and personal, I have of fear of feeling my own mind starting to slip. Truly scary stuff! :)

 
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