I spent a lot of time last weekend thinking about fear. It started with the 9/11 memorials. Being the morbid creature that I am, I watched the replay of the real-time events of that traumatic day–not once, but twice. I was amazed at how composed the newscasters remained as the world seemed to be collapsing all around us.
Fear was very much on my mind on Saturday night when my sister and I happened to visit a Russian attack submarine, the Scorpion, which is docked next to the Queen Mary in the port of Long Beach. It was amazing to see this relic of the Cold War transformed into a tourist attraction. It has been preserved exactly as it was for the Russian sailors (except, I assume, for the on-board nukes). You can see the torpedo tubes and attack periscope, the cramped quarters, piping, and weaponry, everything that made it yesteryear’s “terror of the deep.” The sub spawned a lively discussion about which era was scarier–the Cold War, or today’s climate of fear surrounding terrorism. I argued that the Cold War was scarier, mainly because we were facing the possibility of the extinction of the human species with the pushing of a few buttons from vehicles like the Scorpion.
Fear can be found everywhere. Recently I heard about a crime wave in Mobile,
As writers, it doesn’t matter what type of fear we are trying to convey–we have to “bring it home” to the reader by making it seem real and visceral. In my current WIP I’m struggling to convey a fear that human society as a whole is going to be changed unless our hero–or the villain, depending on how you see him–succeeds in his mission.
In your current WIP, what type of fear are you writing about? World disaster? Danger to a loved one? Female in jeopardy? What types of techniques do you use to make it real for the reader?