Monday, August 06, 2007

Fear and Safety

What lets your characters feel safe? What scares them?

These two questions can be the springboard for a credible plot for your book—no matter what you are writing because fear and the desire for safety are two of the most powerful driving forces for most people.

Think about recent political disputes, for example, and the degree of emotion they arouse. Essentially, the deep divide is about fear and the desire to be safe and the disagreement about what choices are most likely to keep us safe.

Safety and fear might revolve primarily around financial safety or physical safety or emotional safety—or al three. What keeps one person safe might cause another to feel distinctly unsafe. And then you have conflict. The deeper the fears, the greater the conflict—whether between individuals, nations, or any opposing groups.

If one understands this, then it becomes possible to create plots with believable conflict and readers will be able to empathize with the characters—even if the character’s fears are not precisely the same as the reader’s fears. In real life, understanding this concept means that one may have a chance of resolving conflicts and doing so in a way that is win-win for both parties.

Hopes and dreams matter, too, of course, but that’s a subject for another posting on another day.