Writing about Fear

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Writing about Fear

This is a piece by Rosemary Wakelin on writing about fear in characters

Writing about Fear
A book review
by Rosemary Wakelin

Recently I discovered a fantastic new writing resource containing a wealth of ideas in SHOWING characters emotions.
THE EMOTION THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER EXPRESSION
by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.
Angela and Becca brainstormed ideas with groups of people for 75 emotions listing them beneath five headings such as Physical Signals, Internal Sensations and Mental Reactions.
The authors suggest using their ideas to brainstorm versions of your own by either making them different or even better.
Below I have taken just a few of their examples for the emotion of FEAR and either made slight changes to them or expanded upon them.
I hope you find them useful when wanting to show fear in your characters or when inventing some of your own.
Fear
 
PHYSICAL SIGNALS:
Breath sawing in and out
Legs rigid, making walking challenging
Staring into the distance but not seeing
Hands wedged into armpits, self-hugging, rubbing hands up and down arms as if cold
Sweeping hand across a moist forehead
Talking to oneself, sobbing, praying
Jerky, uncoordinated movements, flinching at the slightest sound
 
INTERNAL SENSATIONS
Dizziness, nausea, legs/arms feeble or numb
Chest tight, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat
Parched throat, difficulty in swallowing and/or speaking
Stomach churning, bubbling, burning
Holding your breath, wheezing for air
 
MENTAL REACTIONS
Irrational thoughts/images passing one’s mind
Impulsive reactions without thinking them through
A distorted sense of time, time moving too slow, too quickly
The burning need to hide or run.
Happy writing!