We are thrilled to welcome our newest contributor, Lauri Schoenfeld!
We all have them. Even Chuck Norris in all his skilled nature has fear. It might be mostly that he’ll be the last surviving human on earth. Then who could he defeat? He might have to fight himself and have his own version of Fight Club, but still there’s one.
I think all of us feel at times that we’re fighting ourselves internally. There’s always some battle to be won and fear plays a major role in that as well. Which poses the question, where do fears stem from? Are they parts of our pasts that we haven’t fully recovered from? Maybe something we saw or witnessed that we weren’t prepared for?
When I was seven, a neighbor kid found a snake in our backyard. I remember being curious to see what it looked like, until the boy picked it up. Before I knew what was happening, he threw it at my face. The instant shock without any preparation or idea to what he would do, left a mark. One that still petrifies me. Just looking at a snake now gives me chills, and the urge to run as anxiety kicks in.
A few years ago, my sweet daughter, Belle, wanted me to pet “Peaches” at the Aquarium. Sounds like something you’d want to cuddle, right?
It was a snake. Let me start over, “Peaches” is an anaconda so a tad bigger than your average, scaly friend. Talk about panic. I didn’t want her to be afraid, so I made sure not to look into its eyes because you know…they smell fear and sense it. The hospital bills alone for my child getting therapy after I’m eaten would be outrageous. I worked hard to remember to breathe and to steady my shaking hand while I smiled and touched it. My daughter clapped and was reassured that the snake would be her best friend now. She went right over with no care in the world and looked into its eyes. I’m happy to inform you that she wasn’t eaten.
In writing mystery or thriller, you as the writer are using the fears of your character to deepen the plot, conflict and storyline. Ask these questions.
1. What are they afraid of?
- Letting someone down
- Losing a loved one
- Natural disasters
- Public speaking
- Falling in love
2. What’s their story behind their fear?
- There’s always a story behind the fear the character possesses whether it’s subconsciously or conscious. Build on it. This creates emotion, tension and suspense. Also adds to the storytelling.
3. Is there a trigger?
- If so, always set off that trigger in the story. Always.
- Maybe the character is afraid of fire. A match, flame, or even the sound of a spark, could set them spiraling into panic.
If your main character is deathly afraid of large bodies of water, that’s your cue to find a way to place him in a large body of water. Apply the pressure. If they’re afraid of tight spaces, dark closets, basements, or being buried alive; have them trapped in that area right as they’re about to find a clue.
Think about how you personally react to things that terrify you. What kind of body language do you use? Are you private or vocal about it? How do you get around it? Do you face it or avoid it?
Put your character in an uncomfortable situation and see what they’re made of. Throw a snake or two at them and see if they will pet it or run. Never put them up against Chuck Norris though. They’ll never win that battle.
Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs. In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story. Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well. Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence. She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years. She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.