Why Writers Face Their Deepest Fears by M. B. Weston

I’m sitting in front of my computer with shivers literally traveling down my arms. I can’t imagine how my poor character is feeling… Except my character is a Navy Seal. Named Tom… [Cue the excitement from the Elysian Chronicles fans…] He might not get as scared as me, but I guarantee you he’s not happy I’ve written him into this situation…

Writers know that creating tension in a story is vital. It means we put our characters in tough situations that we might not necessarily want to write about. It means manipulating our reader’s emotions. Your characters might need to experience sadness or terror in order to make the story better, even if you as the author don’t want to go there.

Unfortunately, we authors often have to experience the same emotions our characters experience. This especially includes me. I’m a “method writer.” Like a method actor, I have to put myself into the character’s head. I have to “be there.” That’s why I can’t just write an outline and have it work. I have to create more of a pre-draft because I literally have to go into the story and hear, see, and feel what my character feels.

So when Tom is scuba diving off the coast of Norway and has to go into an uncharted cave, I’m there with him. When he has to make a decision when the cave forks, knowing that his air is dwindling, I’m living it. And when a sea monster comes at him…

Yeah. I’m the one who has to endure the surprising sight of teeth and scales while squirming backward in a tiny sea cave trying to remember which way to go to escape and hoping the cave doesn’t become my tomb…

All from the safety of my writing desk. But I’m still feeling the shivers…

Here’s the funny thing about creating stories: the sea monster wasn’t planned. Neither was the cave. Tom was just supposed to go down into the ocean and get some samples. However, letting my imagination take control sometimes allows it to access my inner fears. I’m a certified scuba diver, and I have a fear of going into underwater caves because I’ve heard too many horror stories about cave diving without training. And I live in Florida where sharks and alligators are real threats. But getting into the story and letting my imagination take over is when the magic of creation happens.

It’s also when you might see an author jump out of her skin in a coffee shop.

For the writers: make sure you spend time in your hero’s head to get the most out of your story.

For the readers: remember to thank your favorite authors for enduring all of that emotional turmoil so you can enjoy a good story.

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