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Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Fear

Emotion Fear

When you want to write the emotion fear, it's important to "show" the emotion your character is experiencing through their physical reactions and dialogue, rather than "tell" it. In this article we provide you with inspiration so you can avoid emotional tells and immerse your readers in your story.

Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, threatening, or likely to cause pain or harm. It is a natural response to a perceived threat and can manifest in physical sensations such as increased heart rate, sweating, and heightened senses. Fear can be rational or irrational, and it can be experienced in varying degrees of intensity.

  1. Different Types of Fear
  2. Situations Associated with Fear
  3. Physical Reactions to Fear
  4. Thoughts Associated with Fear
  5. Atmosphere of Fear
  6. Verbs Associated with Fear
  7. Emotions Before Fear
  8. Emotions After Fear
  9. Telling Fear Examples to Avoid
  10. Practical Examples of Showing Fear
  11. Exercises for Showing Fear

Different Types of Fear

Here are some different types of fear:

  • Anxiety
  • Apprehension
  • Dread
  • Horror
  • Panic
  • Terror
  • Unease

Situations Associated with Fear

Here are some situations where a character might experience the emotion of fear:

  • A traumatic event such as a car accident, natural disaster, or violent crime
  • Being in an unfamiliar or dangerous environment
  • Facing a life-threatening illness or injury
  • Receiving threats or being bullied
  • Witnessing or experiencing violence or abuse
  • Being chased or hunted by someone or something
  • Losing a loved one or experiencing a significant loss
  • Feeling helpless or powerless in a situation
  • Facing a phobia or anxiety trigger

Physical Reactions to Fear

Here are some physical reactions a character experiencing fear might have:

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Pupil dilation
  • Muscle tension or tightness
  • Clenched jaw or teeth grinding
  • Freezing or feeling paralyzed
  • Avoidance or running away
  • Seeking protection or comfort from others
  • Increased alertness or vigilance
  • Hypervigilance or exaggerated startle response

Thoughts Associated with Fear

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing fear might have:

  • I can't do this, I'm not good enough
  • What if something terrible happens?
  • I'm so scared, my heart is racing
  • I need to get out of here before something bad happens
  • I feel like I'm going to be sick
  • I'm shaking uncontrollably
  • I don't know how to handle this situation
  • I'm so afraid of failing
  • I feel like I'm trapped and can't escape

Atmosphere of Fear

Here are some ways that you might reflect the emotion of fear in the atmosphere of your scene:

  • Use dark lighting or shadows to create an ominous or foreboding feeling.
  • Include eerie or unsettling sounds, such as creaking floorboards or distant howling.
  • Describe the setting in a way that emphasizes its dangers or risks, such as a slippery cliff or a deserted alleyway.
  • Create a sense of isolation or confinement through the setting, such as a locked room or a dense forest.
  • Include physical sensations that evoke fear, such as a pounding heart or sweaty palms.
  • Use language and imagery that conveys a sense of unease or danger, such as describing a character's breath as shallow or their skin as clammy.
  • Show the character's reactions to the setting, such as trembling or looking over their shoulder.

Verbs Associated with Fear

Here are some verbs commonly associated with the emotion of fear:

  • Tremble
  • Quiver
  • Shudder
  • Cower
  • Tremor
  • Flinch
  • Shiver
  • Panic
  • Hesitate
  • Recoil
  • Freeze
  • Wince
  • Sweat
  • Hyperventilate
  • Worry
  • Fret
  • Faint
  • Terrify
  • Dread
  • Startle
  • Hunch
  • Gasp

Emotions Before Fear

Here are some emotions that may come before a character experiences fear:

  • Curiosity
  • Anxiety
  • Apprehension
  • Worry
  • Nervousness
  • Unease
  • Tension
  • Suspicion
  • Paranoia

Emotions After Fear

Here are some emotions that may come after a character experiences fear:

  • Relief
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Courage
  • Determination
  • Panic
  • Dread
  • Suspicion
  • Insecurity

Telling Fear Examples to Avoid

Here are some examples of telling the emotion fear in a sentence. You should avoid things like this:

  • She was terrified of the dark.
  • He felt afraid of the unknown.
  • The thought of being alone made her scared.
  • He was filled with fear at the sound of footsteps.
  • She couldn't help but feel afraid when she heard the news.
  • He was trembling with fear as he stepped into the haunted house.
  • She was scared out of her wits when she saw the shadowy figure.
  • He was too afraid to move from his spot.
  • She was paralyzed with fear at the sight of the monster.

Practical Examples of Showing Fear

Here are some examples of showing fear in a sentence:

  • Her heart raced like a runaway train as she tiptoed through the dark, empty house.
  • His hands trembled as he reached for the phone, afraid of what news might be waiting on the other end.
  • She couldn't shake the feeling of dread that settled over her like a heavy blanket.
  • Every creak and groan of the old wooden stairs sent shivers down his spine as he climbed higher and higher.

Exercises for Showing Fear

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing fear:

  • Write a scene in which the character is alone in a dark and unfamiliar place.
  • Imagine a scenario in which the character is being chased by a dangerous predator.
  • Write a conversation between the character and someone they are afraid of.
  • Create a scene where the character is experiencing a panic attack.
  • Describe the character's physical reactions to fear, such as sweating or trembling.
  • Write a scene where the character must face a fear they have been avoiding.
  • Imagine a scenario where the character is trapped in a small, enclosed space.
  • Write a scene where the character is trying to hide from someone or something that is pursuing them.
  • Create a scene where the character is forced to confront their deepest fear.

Want more help with showing emotion instead of telling? You find more help in our full thesaurus of emotions.

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