What Are Your Characters Most Scared Of?


There are five key emotion types that we experience:

FEAR, GRIEF, ANGER, ENVY & LOVE

Fear is an often used device used in films. Although it is most commonly associated with horror movies, fear affects characters in all movie genres. It liberates them and motivates them to act. Use fear in your screenwriting. The struggle creates great conflict.

Why do the characters in your screenplays experience fear? Is it our way of protecting ourselves from danger or simply a reluctance to change? Are they making excuses or have legitimate concerns?

Some experts believe that fear is caused when there is a misalignment between someone’s understanding of a situation and its danger. Fear can be real or imagined. Underestimated or exaggerated. There is no way of knowing for sure until action is taken.

Either way, much of the fear in movies is exploited through the heightened anticipation of a negative outcome. Audiences’ love this.

Extreme fear occurs when the irrational expectation of the worst case scenario massively intrudes into your characters’ lives.

Fear is associated with extreme pain; emotional, physical or spiritual. That’s why it makes us uncomfortable.

However, fear is a normal emotion associated with your hero’s journey. At first they are reluctant to act until they are forced to.

LOSS

Fear can be associated with risking the loss anything such as possessions, a relationship, a job, health, life; anything that represents security and the status quo. If your characters are going to grow as people, they must overcome the fear of loss and embrace change. Celebrate it, no matter how scary and painful it is.

INERTIA

This is more of an internal mental process for your characters. They are afraid of change and giving up all that is familiar to them; even if it doesn’t serve their best interests.

Sometimes it’s easier of your characters to retain the status quo than venture into the unknown. They often wonder whether they are worthy of change, can they handle a change of situation, do they understand the magnitude of the challenge?

Are their motivations and goals worthy? Will there be a happy ending to the knew situation? There’s only one way to find out. Take action.

LET DOWN

This is related to the previous fear (inertia). What if things don’t work out as planned? What if we fail? What if your character decides they don’t really want everything they work so hard for? The truth is that potential disappointment is not reason enough not to change, so long as lessons are learned.

Now, let’s get down to some writing.

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