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Writing a character who is scared

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I have a supporting character in my WIP who is very scared of lots of things about the situation. They're on a mission to rescue someone, despite the fact that just about everything about this mission is scary to them. And it's feeling very repetitive. 

I really really like this character in small doses. (I like their personality, their quirks, their dialogue, etc etc.) But no matter how I try to write things, it quickly starts to feel like, "and then they saw ANOTHER thing they were scared of," & "and then they did/said [thing that they do when scared] AGAIN" & "and then, surprise surprise, they pushed through it." It just gets old fast.

I know there's always the possibility of deleting them or changing their personality, but I'd like to at least try to find a way to keep them. If nothing else, it will be a good learning experience for me to figure out how to make it work - I've run up against similar types of problems before. 

Thanks!
#1 - February 02, 2014, 02:59 PM

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This isn't a very far-reaching answer, but the first thing that comes to mind is Ron Weasley. Unless you don't like Harry Potter, you might  want to study how Ron is portrayed.
#2 - February 02, 2014, 04:46 PM
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You don't always have to comment directly about this particular character. You can have other characters make comments about him/her that let the reader know he/she is scared again. You can also inject small notes of humor referring to his general state of fear. Once the pattern of this character's fright is established, you can even skip his reaction and let the reader imagine it.


As you say, this can feel heavy-handed quickly. Use a light touch until a heavier hand is needed.


Laurel
#3 - February 02, 2014, 07:13 PM

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Sorry, just thought of something else.


If the character has a signature response to fearful situations, like stuffing his pockets with garlic or pouring salt around himself in a circle or whatever, you can make reference to that habit by saying something like, "No one in camp could find any garlic," or "What's all this salt doing on the ground?" The reader then knows that so-and-so is scared again.


Anyway, you get the idea.
#4 - February 02, 2014, 07:18 PM

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Maybe being faced by one frightening situation after another starts to change the way a kid who's scared of a lot of things behaves and feels? Does getting through one or several frightening experiences give them a bit more strength, or does being in a state of long-term stress turn the fear to something else? Maybe that could help change the character's reactions as each situation comes up...
#5 - February 03, 2014, 01:53 AM
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Maybe being faced by one frightening situation after another starts to change the way a kid who's scared of a lot of things behaves and feels? Does getting through one or several frightening experiences give them a bit more strength, or does being in a state of long-term stress turn the fear to something else? Maybe that could help change the character's reactions as each situation comes up...

This.

Is it about the fear, or about the fact that this character keeps going despite the fear. Why doesn't he turn back? There is more going on here than just fear.
#6 - February 03, 2014, 09:06 AM
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I'm reading one of the Alvin Ho books and the author is quite successful in portraying Alvin as fearful/allergic to just about everything. Really funny!
#7 - February 03, 2014, 10:52 AM
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Willo Davis Roberts always has kids in scary situations, some handle it better than others. Roland Smith wrote Zach's Lie and Jack's Run where both both MC are put into serious situations that scare them.  Perhaps if you look at someone else's work where a character who is scared of what is going on around them deals with their fears and keeps going may help you with your character. 
#8 - February 03, 2014, 10:55 AM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

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Oh, these are all GREAT suggestions! I've tried out some of the writing suggestions and it really helped. And I've already started studying the books and characters people recommended (how could I forget about Ron Weasley?) and it's helping a lot to see how other authors do it. Thanks so much everyone!!!
#9 - February 05, 2014, 02:40 PM

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