1) An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.
2) To be afraid of (something or someone) as likely to be dangerous, painful , or threating.
Today I’m going to be blogging about fear and how it relates to characters. The two definitions of fear are only the tip of the fear iceberg, because when diving into the fear pool. It is hard to understand about different kinds of fears. Let’s say, a lion charging at you or the fear of asking that super cute woman at the office that you have worked with for a year and you’re absolutely positive that she will say yes but that little voice in the head is telling you that……. These are classic examples of two different but relatable types of fear. Fear, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.
Both of these fears will cause a physical, emotional, and mental reaction when they happen. The loin, I hope, will drive you instantly into “fight or flight” mode. The office lady, well that one is a bit more complex. With the office lady, we should also discuss self confidence, prior experiences with dating women, or women in the office, and so on. Both of these fears are a tangible to the person experiencing them at the moment.
Now lets dive into characters for books and movies.
I love most sci fi, fantasy adventure books, movies, and even anime and manga. I’m not a huge fan of horror, but I do like some of the movies and books. I love the older Star Wars movies. Luke Skywalker was/is a cool dude but he was kind of an ass. While, I think, writing up a fearless characters are cool, they just don’t draw me into a book or movie. Now lets get back to good old Luke.
Luke is part of the Rebels who are tasked with blowing up the Death Star. Now, hold on just one freak’n minute. This planet size weapon is called the Death Star! This should be a very good reason to maybe get a little nervous about flying a small space craft at the “Death freak’n Star” then shooting into a freak’n two meter square hole. WTF commander, ya got a better idea? Also, who designed this thing to have such an obvious weakness? (Must have been a government contractor)
Any who, back to old cool as a cumber Luke. Not a shred of fear, a bead of sweat, a slight trimmer as he casually walks to his X-Wing fighter and mounts up. Our hero, Luke, finds the small opening and boom goes the Death Star, glaring defect and all. (I mean seriously, they couldn’t afford a little piece of metal, or maybe weld this hole up? I mean, this thing must have cost a bazillion dollars and they could not spear a few hundred or so to fix this glaring defect? That’s just bad writing!)
I’m a fantasy adventure writer. I loved all these movies, the Hobbit, Conan the Barbarian, Lord of the Rings and so on. Fan Adv books come by the hundreds, especially now with self publishing. When I started to write my first book, I wanted my characters to be a little bit more real then most of the meatheads you read about or watch on the big screen. When it come to facing off against a foe, to me, dragons are the ultimate foe.
Dragons are cool, but they are also huge, fire breathing monsters that seem to be in a content state of pissed off. If you wanted to write the top A-Hole predictor of the monster world, dragons may earn that mark. Much like Luke, most heroic tales of knight involve a dragon and some kind to killing or slaying of said dragon, regardless if said dragon is guilty of eating the village virgin or not. Now, sir knight sets out on his epic journey with a group of poor saps that just happen to like this guy enough to tag along. (In Star Trek Term, they are Red Shirts) They journey along, killing a few dozen “evil” creatures along the way, gaining confidence to face the fire breathing, virgin eating dragon. Then on one faithful day, the party meet the huge, gigantic, demonstrably ginormous dragon, who is also in a bad mood.
And the party freaks the hell out except for our gallant knight.
Give me a freak’n break! Where is the fear?
It is very common for solders to say that they fought, not out of some type of bravado, or heroic effort, they fought out of fear of dyeing. I am not, in any way shape or form, trying to diminish the efforts of those in uniform. I have talked to many soldiers and heard their experiences first hand. Seasoned soldiers would tell me that their fear never left them, they just managed it differently.
Now, lets return to our gallant knight. He is not facing humans with guns. He is facing a wild animal that is easily many times his or her weight, strength, and dragons are usually intelligent. More intelligent then the knight, if you want my opinion. Facing a wild animal that size would paralyze most people with fear. Fight or (get the hell out of Dodge on the next bullet train) flight would be running on overdrive at this point. In some books and games, there is this thing called “Dragon Fear”. It’s magical fear, only heightened to a point were peeing one’s self in natural. I think seeing a dragon many factors larger then you would pretty much cause that level of fear without many kind of magic involved.
Okay, back to fear. The fear that any person would feel, even with a gram of intelligence, would be screaming at this knight to run away. There is an innate trigger for self preservation build into everyone. Sir knight’s party members running away is that innate trigger going off. But, our gallant, moronic, knight pushes on to face the mountain of a beast with teeth, claws, and fire breath.
First, let me point out if the dragon would identify this knight as a real threat? Does the dragon fear the man in the shinny suit? It would me like you walking out in your yard and seeing a spider wonder by. You may look at the spider and then walk away. No one ever asks the dragon if they feel threatened by something many time smaller then it. Granted, the knight, most likely, has some sort of dragon killing sword, but for him to use it, he would need to get close enough to huge dragon to poke him or her with it. It may be as simple, for the dragon, to just squash the man in the metal suit and be done with it. Maybe the dragon will just go one his way having the virgins start him a nice warm bath and a good massage after.
I do not believe that anyone, sane or not, would try and go toe to toe with a dragon. The the anime Gate, Yoji Itami, the main character, call in an air strike, artillery barrage, and C-4 explosives to kill two young dragons. Itami-san has a great dose of fear and respect for the dragons he wanted to kill. This need to be explained for everyone to see. The knight is not immune to fear once he sees the size of the creature he wants to kill. There should have been moments were Luke showed his fear on his face, in a reaction when he saw the Death Star for the first time.
I want to say that it is okay to show your character’s fear. Let your character own their fear, it will make the character seem much more real. I did not get much into other forms of fear in this blog, but I will in other blogs at a later date.
Fear is real and should be treated as real.
Have a great day,