A to Z Challenge 2013

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blog Chain - Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself...Wanna Bet?

After a relaxing weekend, it's time to dive back into things with the tough question posed by the ever-challenging Christine:

What is the main character of you current WiP most afraid of and why? Don’t use a previously finished work. This is all about discovering the inner motivations of your current characters – the ones you don’t know all that well yet.

I won't kid you.  This question actually scares me.  Delving into the psyche of my characters is a dicey business at best.  And since I don't do character profiles or character interviews or anything even remotely similar, it's a tough question for me to answer as well.  But I'm not one to ever back down from a literary challenge (at least so far), so here's my best shot at it.

The main character I've chosen for this is Jeremy.  I am actually in the process of fleshing Jeremy out more, so this is really helpful for that anyway.   Jeremy is a 26 year old computer geek.  He's getting evicted at the beginning of the story, is newly unemployed, has no real friends, has no strong emotional ties to family, and buys a cup of coffee with his last dime.  Even though these problems are huge to most people, they're tiny in comparison to the fear that really plagues Jeremy.  His greatest fear is being insignificant, being forgettable as a person.  And he believes that he has become this very thing.

This fear is the cause of all Jeremy's problems, and it paralyzes him.  He has no girlfriend because he can't hold an intelligent conversation with someone he finds attractive.  He recognizes that he's almost 30 and in his mind, that's a death knell for single guys.  After all, nobody wants to date an out-of-work computer geek over the age of 30, and at the beginning of the story, he has no prospects for improving things.  His fear of insignificance also includes the belief that he will grow old without having had any impact on the world around him.  He will die, and the world will not notice his passing.  Computer geeks are not remembered for their accomplishments, he figures (Bill Gates aside, of course).

Jeremy stumbles on an ad for a job, and this catapults him into a position of unthinkable power, influence, and responsibility.  He becomes nearly omnipotent, and he chooses to ignore his earlier problems.  It's a band-aid for his fear however, and in time he will need to come to terms with things or risk destroying everything he holds dear.

Whew.  I guess this wasn't as tough as I expected.  It has been a fun exercise though, one I will probably adopt for all my MC's.  Thanks Christine.  If you haven't had the pleasure of reading my predecessor Michelle Hickman's answer, you need to hurry on over there.  She even gives us a writing sample of her work, which is truly awesome.  And tomorrow you can look forward to an answer from the totally cool Michelle Mclean (who's non-fiction book Essays & Term Papers is now available, make sure you get a copy!)

What are your main character's fears?  Have you asked them?


Michelle H. said...

Oh, nice one! I don't think I could have broken down a character's personality as you did, especially when it has to deal with inferiority and self-esteem issues. Good job!

Indigo said...

Love the breakdown of your main character. You've given a lot of thought about his personality and nuances.

My main character is socially inadept and has no understanding of normal boundaries when relating to others. It's a complicated personality to flesh out. (Hugs)Indigo

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Good analysis of your character. I think this is a common fear, especially once you reach a certain age and can look back on your life, comparing what you really did with what you thought you'd accomplish.

Christine Fonseca said...

LOVE your answer! GREAT JOB!!!

Eric said...

Michelle - Aww, I think your approach was way better. But thank you :)

Indigo - Thanks. Now if I can just write him more that way LOL. Your character sounds interesting as well.

Sandra - Yep, that's pretty much true. I've taken it to an extreme with Jeremy however, which I guess we do with alot of our characters.

Christine - Awww, thanks. Not nearly as great a job as you coming up with the question though :)

Icy Roses said...

This is a cool idea! It's definitely important to know your MC's fears, because those are what drive the plot. I'm going to give it some thought myself. :)

Eric said...

Icy - You are so right. Hope this gives you some great momentum in your writing.

K.M. Weiland said...

If you accept the fact that fear and love are the two greatest human motivators, you end up realizing that they're the only two things that can move your story forward. And because fear is generally more conflict-laden, it's usually the better choice for fiction. Plus, fear opens up so many interesting character flaws and complexities. Discovering my characters' deepest fears is always one of my favorite parts of sketching their personalities in the early stages of my outlines.

Cole Gibsen said...

Wow. Really awesome concept - one that a lot of people are going to be able to relate to. Nice job!

Shaun Hutchinson said...

I think that's a great concept. And one I think that drives a lot of people. I don't know too many folks who haven't sat around wondering what will be left of them when they die. What if they don't matter? Heavy, awesome stuff.

Anonymous said...

Now THAT'S interesting!!! Being afraid of being invisible. Nice job.