The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Just a short note today—off for yoga class at 11, and then I have to tape an NPR “All Things Considered” book review at 3, so time is tight.

But I wanted to continue the thoughts on applying the Hero’s Journey to your work.  The second step is the Rejection of the challenge.  Friends, if your character doesn’t freak out just a little bit at the thought of the actions or problems ahead, you haven’t chosen your character and/or designed your plot properly.

A story is about the moment when someone changes.  When their life change.  One door closes, another opens.  And traversing that emotional territory is terrifying.  Any event powerful enough to force a change in our habits or personality is going to trigger fear…the only question is what will we do with that fear.

Some people run from the fear, some are paralyzed by it, others energized.  But make no mistake: if your character is not afraid to take the next step in your story, you have given her a trivial challenge, one that will depend on the cleverness of your writing rather than the honesty and depth of your characterization.

Which brings up the next question: what are YOU most afraid of?  Dig deep, because the answer to this question may be of critical importance in the furtherance of your career, the integrity  of your relationships, and the health of your body.

Once you’ve identified areas that trigger fear, build your next story around those stresses.  Give your character the same, or analogous problems.  Then…watch and see what they do.  You may be surprised!

So…what are you most afraid of in life?  What fears have held you back, distorted your perceptions, stolen your energy?

Get to work!

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