Posts belonging to Category Mood

Writing the Fear Reaction

Over the past week and a half, I’ve been writing about factors that are going to influence how characters react to something that scares them. Now let’s put it all together and look at a step-by-step process for writing a character’s fear reaction.
First (assuming an immediate threat), let the instinctive, startle-reflex reaction hit: fight, flight [...]

Characterization Exercise: What is Fear to You?

You’ve probably noticed one of the more odd blanks I put on my fear profile template: the role of fear in the character’s life. After all, not all characters deal with fear in quite the same way; there’s what they think of experiencing it, how willing they are to show it, how much it affects [...]

Fear: Responses vs. Coping Mechanisms

I find that people’s ways of reacting to fear stimuli fall into two general categories.
On the one hand, you have direct responses to the fear itself: attempting to in some way eliminate the immediate need to be afraid. For some people, this might be removing themselves from the location of the fear-source, or trying to [...]

Writing a Character Fear Profile

Sometimes, it’s easier to approach something when you can fill in the blanks; characters’ fear reactions are no exception. The following is the skeleton of a possible way of recording a character’s fear profile; her standard reactions, her greatest fears and those most expected but least likely to actually bother her, her sensitizations and habituations, [...]

On Fear: Social and Long-Term Threats

For a lot of people, it’s easy(ish) to imagine fear reactions when dealing with immediate threats to life and limb. Big guys with bigger weapons and apparent invincibility? Earthquakes that create yawning chasms right under them? Thing in the darkness picking off their allies one by one? Straightforward, for fear. But not all threats are [...]

Classifying Fears

Fear reactions don’t just vary by character—they can also vary within a character’s emotional range by what exactly the fear stimulus is. How long-lasting is this threat? How intense? What sort of thing is it? How much room does the character have to respond to it? One of the things we can do to get [...]

Looking at the Fear Reaction

A while ago, I talked about attempting to evoke fear in the audience. But it didn’t really touch much on the other side of the equation, how to write a character experiencing fear. I started thinking about this yesterday, and discovered that it rapidly got very, very complicated: there was the matter of coping mechanisms, [...]

Inserting Humor Without Breaking the Scene

We really don’t have to talk about why intense emotion is so common in our stories and games; it’s, well, intense. But the thing about it, particularly if it takes the form of a whole lot of negative emotion, is that it’s tiring, moreso the longer it goes. Fortunately, slipping spots of humor into an [...]

In Defense of Idle Conversation

I’ve had long arguments with at least one of my players/GMs about whether a scene that seems entirely to be small talk is worth it—and goodness knows I’ve heard plenty about conservation of detail, streamlining sessions, that sort of thing. So it came as a bit of a surprise when, twice in two weeks, I [...]

Subtext: To Resolve or Not To Resolve?

I’ve written a lot in praise of creating a scene to be heavy in subtext. It’s something of a passion of mine. But one of the biggest questions when introducing new or otherwise unexplained subtext—in short, subtextual cues that the audience does not have context for—is whether or not to explain what’s really going on [...]