People are afraid of the strangest things. Pick a thing, any thing, and someone will be terrified of it.
For fiction writers, this is pure bliss. As a device to make any of your characters behave out of, er, character, a phobia can come in very handy. If you need to stop a character in mid-action, throw in something to scare them witless or give them a shock.
If you need a new idea for a sub-plot, a crisis, an ending or a beginning, pick a phobia. They’re great. Mind you, it’s not something you can use too often, but it doesn’t have to be a major thing. You could, however, build a whole novel around a serious phobia.
Oh, such fun. For the author, anyway. If you suffer from any phobia it’s anything but. If you are phobic, on the other hand, you will know exactly how it feels to be confronted by the thing you fear most. You can write very convincingly about the physical feelings, the mental paralysis, the compulsion to run, or to destroy, or to freeze.
For each of the phobias illustrated, answer these questions without thinking – just write anything down. Let your subconscious do the work, not your conscious mind
Which character is scared of this?
Where and when does the encounter take place?
What does this character do instinctively and immediately?
How long does it take till the terror wears off?
Who else gets hurt in the panic?
What does the character lose, or fail to do as a result?
What is the consequence of this?
I’d love to see some of your responses – do please leave an example (or three) in the comments box.
- Easy Phobias to Treat and Hard Phobias (psychologytoday.com)
- Thalassophobia: A Personal Story of Irrational Fear (sn2snblog.com)