Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to make Characters Scared

   Tabitha Black does not believe in the supernatural even though for decades past her ancestors were gifted with clairvoyance. She does not believe in legends either, because she would rather deal with facts. 

Question from the e-mail: As you know, Arline, I write horror stories. But lately, readers have complained that  the characters don't seem scared enough. Any idea on how to fix that?


I can only tell you what I did once, when faced with the same situation.  I found a moment in my own past when I had felt that emotion and described how I had felt. Okay, I had never been attacked by aliens, but I had been scared when something unexpected happened.

Once I needed to find shock and horror for a character in a story. To do that I remembered a day when I'd taken clothes in off the line, folding them into the basket as I went. When I started to put them away, a snake crawled out from between the towels and landed  at my feet. Worse, he was between me and the door. I am terrified of snakes. Always have been.

I took all the sick, palpitating, screaming horror I felt when I saw thay snake and gave those emotions to the my character. Her palms sweat, here hands shook, the room seemed to come and go. And I used what I had felt, to understand how she would feel when she walked into her own horrifying situation.

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