Question Two

fear-etbscreenwritingThe Character’s Fear

Write the answers to Question Two on the right hand point of the diamond.

Question Two: What was your greatest childhood worry or anxiety? This is a non-specific generalized fear. What would keep you awake at night as a kid if you thought about it too much?  What was a recurring dream or image that scared you?

This second answer is the character’s “Fear.”

The character’s fear drives, fuels or is the force behind the character’s mask. The character tries very hard to hide, deny, bury, camouflage or ignore this fear. Be specific. Get to the real essence of the fear.

For example: “the fear of death” might really be the fear of abandonment; of being separated from loved ones left behind.  Or it might really represent being overwhelmed by a powerful supernatural force.  What does “death” actually mean to the character?  What does “death” feel like?

The Character’s Fear is:

– How the character believes he or she is or might become unloved or unlovable.

– The inner doubt or dread the character must face in order to live in his or her true self (and not the false self of the mask).

– How the deepest anxiety or worry prevents the character from making a Leap of Faith toward the true self.

Whenever you are having trouble with a scene, a sequence or an act, ask yourself— How is the character’s fear manifesting itself in this situation?

Character MapHow is the character denying, avoiding, camouflaging or hiding the fear? How is the character trying to cope with or manage the fear? How is the fear tempting the character to get into trouble? How is the character facing the fear? Or, how is the character surrendering to or personally manifesting the fear?  Fear isn’t just a prime motivator of protagonists. When antagonists do terrible or extremely evil deeds they are most often motivated by fear. Giving the audience an glimpse of the antagonist’s fear humanizes him or her and makes this character a more complex and fully realized individual in your screenplay.

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