Fears—writers love them. They fuel the fire, creating high drama in our stories.
We may not admit it but most of us have some version of anxiety or dread, even if it’s only a nominal, society induced, family-related habit called worry. For many unfortunate people, fear keeps them from leaving home. You’ve probably heard of agoraphobia or the common fear of heights called acrophobia. Screenwriters use some of these fears and create an entire plot based on a particular fear. Remember Die Hard or the super funny High Anxiety? I never saw it but imagine Friday the 13th plays on triskaidekaphobia or the fear of the number thirteen. When you come right down to it, even Gone with the Wind is about our fear of loss and I can’t imagine anything scarier than Snakes on a Plane-(Haven’t seen it). A fear of ants is myrmecophobia, and I’ve woven some not so frightening horror scenes based on it into my work in progress.
Many of us giggle at some of the strange sounding phobias such as the fear of chickens (alektorophobia) or the common fear the school principal might have known about, called didaskaleinophobia, which is another way of saying you’re afraid of going to school. (I may have suffered from that during finals week.) The funniest one I can relate to (only because I never learned to use them) is the fear of chopsticks. Consecotaleophobia. But seriously, can you imagine there are people actually terrorized by the thought of chopsticks? Don’t you want to hug them and offer them a fork? Could you work a fear like that into your manuscript?
Once we rule out the fear of chopsticks, the fear of chickens might manifest itself in different ways depending on the person. Is it a fear of chickens walking across the road or the one diced and tossed with peanuts and fired up peppers in the Kung Pao sauce? Or maybe, in the end, it’s those wicked peppers after all, and the chickens get the blame?
While I’m no expert, I think certain fears are “normal.” There’s the fear of tornadoes and hurricanes (lilapsophobia) or the fear of Hell, (hadephobia) and my personal fear of cats, called gatophobia. Sorry, my cat loving friends but those little critters freak me out. (Wait, come back—I think they’re cute—it’s the way they lock eyes with me. All right, maybe it’s not normal but I don’t plan to get over it by absorbing myself in online cat therapy.)
As a writer, I probably suffer from dysgrammatophobia or the fear of bad grammar and ortographobia which is the fear of making spelling errors. Can you imagine spelling these phobias for a spelling bee? Even the lottery people are trying to convince us we had better lose our fear of wealth (plutophobia) (this sounds curable) and start playing the Powerball numbers before it’s too late.
Last night, we discussed our real fears and mine is losing my eyesight, (scotomaphobia) but my husband had one that wasn’t even on the list. He presumes it’s a deep-rooted fear that comes through from his cave-man roots. (I knew it!) Though we laughed about it and I Googled it, it seemed strange there isn’t a fancy sounding phobia listed for his secret anxiety. He said the scariest thing he can think of is: being eaten alive by a bear or any large animal and we haven’t even seen The Revenant. I wonder if seeing the movie will help overcome this fear or make it worse. Aren’t we supposed to face our fears? Is seeing a movie a form of therapy? Did you swim in the ocean more or less, after seeing Jaws?
Are you afraid of something and have you tried overcoming your fears? If you're a writer, have you worked a phobia into your plot?
(This post is supposed to be humorous and not intended for anything other than rapport among my followers, most of whom are writers and artists. I realize the serious nature of phobias and my compassionate heart recommends counseling or medical intervention for anyone who cannot cope with these psychological issues.)