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tooeviltoknow
May 15th, 2005, 11:47 PM
Haven't been on for a while now... so many new threads... anyway... I read somewhere on-line that a character is only halfway there until you've figured out what your character is afraid of.

An example would be LOTR:The Two Towers. I realized how necessary Gollum was for Frodo's character developement throughout the whole story. Frodo was terrified of becoming like Gollum and the way Gollum was used in the story struck me as absolutely brilliant.

So I'm concentrating on the fear factor right now with my own characters and I was wondering what causes everyone to tremble with fear? Don't answer if the question makes you uncomfortable.

TheEarCollector
May 16th, 2005, 12:51 AM
I would have to go with a fear of loneliness... which is just an extension of the fear of being forgotten after death and having served no purpose

JamesL
May 16th, 2005, 04:32 AM
Some excellent examples of characters' fears can be find in Marco's Tyrants and Kings series. Richius Vantran is afraid of losing his wife, Biagio is afraid that his grand design will fail, Herrith is afraid of Biagio's plan, Diana is afraid of losing Richius, and so on. Every character seems to have a fear in Marco's story and it gives the series a real edge to it and aids the plot and themes.

Hereford Eye
May 16th, 2005, 08:30 AM
I can't agree with the basic premise. If we are saying that fear is a character's defining trait, that the character sucks if something besides fear provides his or her motivation, then I'd disagree totally.
There is a challenge, an obstacle of some sort required for a story to be a story but to say that Romeo and Juliet's motivation is fear of losing each other short shrifts the love they felt. Frodo set off on his adventure out of a sense of duty, not fear. I cannot recall Frodo ever comparing himself to Gollum. It may be there but all I recall is the compassion he felt for Smeagol, the certainty there was still some goodness left in him.
Everyone experiences fear at some point but fear doesn't drive everyone's behavior.

Prunesquallor
May 16th, 2005, 09:59 AM
He said "a character is only halfway there until you've figured out what your character is afraid of."

That seems right, or at least a good rule of thumb, and it doesn't preclude characters having some positive motivation. Often these will be two sides to the same coin - the positive drive to accomplish something is accompanied by a fear of being forgotten. It is interesting to wonder whether this would always be the case, or whether a person's greatest fear and greatest... what? aspiration? could be somehow unrelated.

kahnovitch
May 16th, 2005, 10:07 AM
I don't agree much with this line of thought either. It's rather a linear idea that fear is the defining element of a character.

Two of my favourite characters in fantasy are virtually fearless and I love them for it.

Prunesquallor
May 16th, 2005, 10:35 AM
Do you consider these characters well developed?

tooeviltoknow
May 16th, 2005, 10:58 AM
I was talking about fear being used to give the character more life, to make them seem real. As far as fear being the number one motivation, it is not one of my top ten things to use right now.

Dawnstorm
May 16th, 2005, 11:10 AM
Fear = characterological dimension to be addressed.

If you address enough other "characterological dimensions", you'll get away without addressing fear.

If you want a "fearless" character, you've implicitly addressed (and even foregrounded) said dimension, moved the marker towards an extreme. A fearless character can be a mythological hero, a psychopath, beyond caring... (Isn't there a movie called "Fearless", with Jeff Bridges?)

Under which circumstances can it hurt a character, if the writer wonders what their characters are afraid of?

What if Superman suffered from arachnophobia? ;)

Zanzibar
May 16th, 2005, 11:14 AM
For what my opinion's worth I'd say that if you're going to use fear to flesh out your character but you don't want it to be a motivation, then use a fear that's stupidly irrational like arachnophobia (I know, I am one :rolleyes: ). Make it figure prominantly into the story (the evil wizard conjures a demonic giant spider or something to harass the character), and a defining part of the character's personality, but don't use it to furthur the storyline. That way it seems less like a plot device and more like a facet of their personality. Then again, maybe I've been reading too much pulp fantasy.