creative writing to describe fear

32 Ways To Write About Fear

In this post, we have included 32 things for you to consider when you write about fear .

One of our most popular posts on Writers Write is  37 Ways To Write About Anger . We thought we would look at interesting ways to write about other emotions, including:

  • 43 Ways To Write About Love
  • 29 Ways To Write About Happiness
  • 40 Ways To Write About Empathy
  • 37 Ways To Write About Grief

In this post, we look at writing about fear .

How do we write about fear in an authentic way?

Fear is a vital response for human beings. If we didn’t feel fear, we couldn’t protect ourselves from threats. Our bodies and brains are wired to treat threats as life-threatening. This triggers an extreme fight-flight-or-freeze response.

Our fears are not solely dependent on instinctive responses. They are also shaped by our societies and cultures, which teach people when to fear and how much to fear.

Sometimes, our fear is unnecessary and we avoid doing things that could be beneficial to us. Sometimes, facing danger can result in lingering  responses that trigger us to act in a certain way, even when the risk is gone.

The same is true for the characters we create. When we write about fearful characters, we should remember to write about them in a realistic way.

Here are 32 things to consider when you write about fear:

A)  Physical Reactions

When we are afraid, we have these reactions:

  • An accelerated breathing rate
  • An accelerated heart rate
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Goose bumps
  • Increased blood glucose
  • Increased white blood cells
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty swallowing

All of these responses help us to survive by either running away or fighting. Use these physical reactions to show your character is afraid.

B)  Body Language

In your body language,  signs of fear  include:

  • Hunching shoulders
  • Shrinking away
  • Wrapping arms around oneself
  • Shaking hands
  • Rocking from side to side

C)  Rational Or Irrational?

  • Fear is rational. It is a reasonable response to danger.
  • Phobias are irrational. They are persistent, irrational fears of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. Read:  Writing About Characters With Phobias

D)   Ways To Create Conflict With Fear

There are three classic ways people respond to fear. They fight, flee, or freeze. Use these responses to create suspense in your book.

  • Fight – choose when your characters would reasonably stay to confront the danger.
  • Flight – choose when your character would reasonably choose to run away.
  • Freeze – choose when your character would realistically become paralysed with fear.

Use these three responses at different times to show different aspects of your character. Use them when they suit your plot.

[TOP TIP: Use our Character Creation Kit to help you create great characters for your stories.]

E)  The Importance Of Fear In Plotting

  • You can create a fearful situation to move a plot forward.
  • You can literally change the setting by making characters move to avoid a threat.
  • You can increase or decrease the pace of a story by introducing a threat.
  • You can show another facet of the character in the way he or she reacts to fear.
  • You can use it to show growth. Characters can look at the way fear made them act and change their behaviour.

Top Tip : Find out more about our  workbooks  and  online courses  in our  shop .

creative writing to describe fear

© Amanda Patterson

If you liked this article ,  you may enjoy

  • 37 Ways To Write About Anger
  • Why You Need A Premise In Fiction
  • 7 Ways To Create Suspense In Your Memoir
  • Body Language , Creating Characters , Description , Show Don't Tell , Writing Tips from Amanda Patterson

1 thought on “32 Ways To Write About Fear”

' src=

Thanks for a great article.

Comments are closed.

© Writers Write 2022

Blog Header Bryn Donovan 2023


tell your stories, love your life

  • Writing Inspiration
  • Semi-Charmed Life
  • Reading & Research

Master List of Actions That Show Fear

woman hiding face under pillow

Hi, everyone! This is a post about how to show fear in writing through the things that the character actually does .

The great American author F. Scott Fitzgerald had a sign over his writing desk that read:

Action is character.

And I think about this all the time.

In the past, I’ve made a list of ways to how to describe fear in writing (along with lists to describe other emotions), and lots of people have found them useful! But action makes the emotion even more vivid…and it’s only through action that a story can move forward.

When a character is anxious or scared, you usually want the readers to be on the edges of their seats, too, and that’s when “show don’t tell” becomes especially important. For example:

Telling: Ella felt terrified of the serial killer on the loose as she went to bed.

Showing : Before Ella went to bed, she double-checked that the doors were locked. Her heart pounded harder as she peered out her back window into the darkness.

There are a lot of things a character might be afraid of, ranging from minor—such as an unpleasant confrontation, or the revelation of an embarrassing secret—to dire. Different actions are appropriate for different fears, of course! And the action a character takes in the face of a danger or threat tells the reader a lot about that character. Does the character freeze? Flee? Prepare to fight? Attack? Pretend the whole thing isn’t even happening?

Here’s my list of “show don’t tell” examples for fear-based actions. Some of these are very small, and some are life-changing. I’m not making any distinction here between rational and irrational fears or actions. Pin it to Pinterest if you think you might want it for future reference!

The Master List of Actions That Show Fear In Writing

bite your nails

make nervous, sarcastic jokes

clutch your chest

cover your eyes or mouth

woman covering her mouth in fear

freeze in place

repeatedly look over your shoulder

scan a crowd for signs of a threat

deny or minimize a threat—explain how it’s a hoax, it’s overblown, etc.

stay up all night, unable to sleep

leave the lights on all night

refuse to be alone

call the police

call a friend

ask someone else or a group for protection

be extra friendly to people who might defend you

be extra friendly to people you fear might harm or punish you

avoid the one you’re scared of: take a different path to their desk at work, decline a meeting or an invitation, etc.

keep your head down

plead with the threatening person

bargain with the threatening person

threaten the threatening person

criticize the threatening person to others

back slowly away

pull the blankets over your head

make yourself smaller—duck your head, cower, wrap your arms around yourself, wrap yourself into a ball

hide behind a large object, in a closet, etc.

man hiding behind sofa

hide behind someone else

ask someone else for a place to hide

man driving car

make a permanent move to another town—or country, or planet

refuse to leave the house; call in sick from work or school, etc.

put off work

refuse to start a new project

refuse to speak

snap at loved ones—or strangers

refuse to answer the door

open the door only a crack to see who it is

refuse to answer phone calls or texts

lock all the doors—and check the locks

changing the locks

changing passwords

close the blinds—and peer through the blinds

woman peering through the blinds

board up the windows

put up a tall fence

check closets, under the bed, etc., for intruders

hide and/or lock up valuables

install a security system

hire a bodyguard

adopt a big dog

pit bull on chain

change passwords

lock down or delete social media accounts

delete emails or email accounts

document someone’s actions

destroy documents or other evidence

falsify documents or bribe officials in order to secure an alibi or an escape

distract yourself from impending doom with TV, books, a hobby, or friends and family

save more money

move money into a new, private bank account—or withdraw and hide cash

buy pepper spray

stockpile guns and ammunition

guns and ammo

take vitamins

get vaccines

get a medical test or screening

doctor's waiting room

try experimental drugs and unproven treatments

hoard food, water, medical supplies, and toiletries

rehearse an escape plan or a crisis response

consider what could be used as a makeshift weapon, such as an iron skillet or a chair

grab a makeshift weapon

put on a bulletproof vest or chain mail

train to fight

take survival training

use religious or superstitious means of protection, e.g. a St. Christopher medal for traveling

make a will

charge someone with looking after your children when you’re gone

physically attack the threatening person

Do you love writing scenes where characters are scared—or do you find them hard to write? Do you have suggestions for how to show fear in writing? Let us know in the comments section below! Thanks so much for stopping by, and have a great week!

Related Posts

Photo of two men fighting in a field.

Share this:

13 thoughts on “ master list of actions that show fear ”.

' src=

Thank you for this list. I love that you share so many of yours. They are such a handy tool to refer to as I write.

' src=

Aw thanks Bonnie! I’m glad to hear it! I’m going to do more of these action lists 🙂

' src=

Thank you. This list is very helpful. Reading through it helped me remember all of the things people do that shows fear, that don’t readily come to mind.

Thanks, Jill! I’m so glad you like it 🙂 Thanks for reading!

' src=

Very useful list. Thank you so much!

Thanks for reading, Naomi!

' src=

Great list! Thanks!

Thanks, Judith! Glad you liked it 🙂

' src=

Great list, Bryn. I love the concrete actions. I also love the pictures you shared. So much difference in the poses, but very visual clues. Thanks for this list.

Hi Jessie! Haha, I took some time getting the pictures. 🙂 Thanks for reading! Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season!

' src=

wonderful list. I’m more likely to use a character being anxious rather than fearful, but they share some of the same feelings and actions.

' src=

‘be extra friendly to people you fear might harm or punish you’ Ouch, that one really pinned down a nervous trait of mine. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this explored in fiction before, maybe I should give it a try.

' src=

Thank you!!!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Writing Nestling

How To Describe Fear In Writing

How To Describe Fear In Writing (13 Steps You Need To Know)

In the realm of literature, the ability to effectively describe fear is a writer’s alchemical skill, capable of transmuting mere words into potent emotional experiences.

Fear, with its multifaceted dimensions, is a profound wellspring of human emotions, and its portrayal on the page holds the power to captivate, terrify, and linger in the reader’s mind long after the book is closed.

Describing fear in writing is not merely an exercise in language; it is an intricate tapestry that weaves together the physiological, psychological, and visceral elements of this primal emotion.

It’s the trembling hands, the racing heartbeats, the chilling atmospheres, and the visceral imagery that transports readers into the depths of terror.

In the pages that follow, we embark on a journey to explore the techniques and nuances of describing fear in writing, to unlock the secrets of crafting fear-laden narratives that resonate deeply with the reader’s soul.

How To Describe Fear In Writing

Table of Contents

How To Describe Fear In Writing

Describing fear in writing is an essential skill for creating immersive and engaging storytelling. Here’s a step-by-step process on how to do it effectively:

Understand Fear:

Before you can describe fear, you need to have a clear understanding of what fear is. Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat or danger.

It can manifest physically, mentally, and emotionally. It often involves heightened senses, increased heart rate, and a sense of impending doom.

Choose the Right Point of View:

Decide on the narrative perspective from which you want to describe fear. First-person narration can provide a deep dive into the character’s inner thoughts and emotions, while third-person can offer a more objective view.

Set the Scene:

Create an atmosphere that supports the feeling of fear. Use descriptive language to set the scene, including details about the setting, time of day, weather, and any relevant surroundings. This helps immerse the reader in the story.

Character Reactions:

Show fear through your characters’ reactions. Consider the physical and emotional responses, such as trembling, sweating, increased heart rate, nausea, or a sinking feeling in the stomach. Use action verbs and vivid adjectives to describe these reactions.

Internal Monologue:

If using first-person or close third-person narration, delve into the character’s thoughts and internal monologue. Describe their racing thoughts, doubts, and the reasons behind their fear. This provides insight into their mindset and makes the fear relatable.

Sensory Details:

Engage the reader’s senses. Describe what the character sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches in the midst of their fear. Sensory details make the scene more vivid and immersive.

Metaphors and Similes:

Use metaphors and similes to make fear more relatable and evocative. For example, “Fear clung to him like a suffocating cloak” or “Her heart pounded like a drum in a horror movie.”

Incorporate dialogue that reveals fear indirectly. People may speak differently when they’re afraid, stuttering, speaking in hushed tones, or asking questions to confirm their fears.


Build tension leading up to the fear-inducing moment. Foreshadowing can make the fear more potent because readers anticipate the impending danger.

Show, Don’t Tell:

Avoid simply telling the reader that a character is afraid. Instead, show their fear through actions, thoughts, and emotions. Allow readers to infer the fear through your descriptions.

Control the pacing of your writing to match the intensity of the fear. Short, rapid sentences and paragraphs can mimic the feeling of panic, while longer, descriptive passages can slow down the narrative for added suspense.


After describing fear, provide a resolution or consequences. This could be the character overcoming their fear, succumbing to it, or finding a way to cope. The resolution should have emotional impact.

Editing and Feedback:

Review your writing and seek feedback from others. Make sure your descriptions effectively convey the desired fear and emotions without being overly repetitive or clichéd.

Remember that practice is key to mastering the art of describing fear in writing. Over time, you’ll refine your skills and develop your unique style for evoking fear in your readers.

How To Describe Fear In Writing

Understanding Fear

Understanding fear is like unraveling the intricate threads of the human psyche, where the pulse quickens, and the mind dances on the precipice of the unknown.

It’s a primal sensation, coursing through our veins like a double-edged sword, both a guardian of survival and a relentless tormentor of our dreams. Fear, in its many guises, holds the power to transform characters, shape destinies, and unveil the raw essence of humanity.

It’s the electrifying surge that drives a protagonist to confront their darkest demons or the chilling whisper that lingers in the shadows, a haunting reminder of our vulnerability.

To truly grasp fear is to dive into the abyss of the human experience, where heartbeats echo with the secrets of our most profound anxieties and where the boundaries of courage are pushed to their limits.

The physiological and psychological aspects of fear

Fear is a remarkable interplay of physiological and psychological elements, an intricate symphony of mind and body.

On the physiological front, fear ignites the ancient “fight or flight” response, setting off a cascade of reactions. The heart races, pumping blood to muscles in preparation for action, while the breath quickens to oxygenate the system.

Senses become hyper-alert, scanning the environment for threats. Meanwhile, the psychological facets of fear delve deep into the labyrinth of the mind. It’s a complex tapestry of emotions, from the initial surge of anxiety to the paralyzing grip of terror.

Fear taps into our primal instincts, triggering survival mechanisms, but it also exposes the vulnerabilities and intricacies of our innermost thoughts and fears.

Together, these physiological and psychological aspects of fear create a riveting, multisensory experience that can both challenge and define the human condition.

Role of Fear in Storytelling

Fear in storytelling is the heart-thumping conductor of the narrative orchestra, an enigmatic maestro that wields emotions like a virtuoso.

It is the electrifying current that surges through every plot twist and character arc, propelling us into a world where the darkness of the unknown collides with the resilience of the human spirit.

Fear transforms ordinary tales into epic odysseys, challenging our heroes to confront their deepest anxieties, their most profound vulnerabilities, and the monsters lurking both within and without.

It is the omnipresent shadow, the lurking menace, and the driving force that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, reminding us that it’s not the absence of fear, but the courage to face it, that defines the most unforgettable stories.

Fear as a driving force in literature and entertainment

Fear is the relentless engine that powers the locomotive of literature and entertainment, propelling both creators and audiences on a thrilling journey through the labyrinth of human emotions.

In the world of storytelling, fear is the catalyst that stirs the cauldron of conflict, thrusting characters into the crucible of their deepest fears and desires.

It is the relentless pursuit of safety or the relentless pursuit of danger that pushes narratives forward, creating suspense, tension, and the irresistible urge to turn the page or keep watching.

From spine-chilling horror tales that tap into our primal instincts to heart-pounding action sequences that push protagonists to their limits, fear is the unseen hand that shapes the plot and molds unforgettable characters.

It invites us to confront our own fears vicariously, making us feel alive, vulnerable, and undeniably human in the process. Fear is not merely a driving force; it is the heartbeat of storytelling itself, pumping life into the veins of every narrative, and ensuring that the thrill of the unknown remains eternally captivating.

Examples of well-crafted fear in literature and popular culture

Well-crafted fear in literature and popular culture resonates like a haunting melody, leaving an indelible mark on our collective psyche. In literature, the works of masters like Edgar Allan Poe, with tales such as “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Masque of the Red Death,” evoke a chilling sense of dread through vivid descriptions and psychological unraveling.

Similarly, H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror stories, like “The Call of Cthulhu,” tap into existential fears of the unknown and insignificance.

In popular culture, cinematic classics like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” masterfully manipulate suspense and atmosphere to elicit spine-tingling fear.

Television series like “The Twilight Zone” by Rod Serling use allegorical storytelling to explore societal anxieties.

In the realm of literature, film, and television, these examples showcase the enduring power of fear to captivate and terrify, demonstrating that fear, when skillfully wielded, can etch its mark on our hearts and minds for generations to come.

Building Fearful Atmosphere

Building a fearful atmosphere is akin to composing a symphony of shadows and whispers in the literary realm. It’s the delicate art of weaving an intricate tapestry of tension, where each word becomes a note that resonates in the reader’s imagination.

It’s the eerie rustling of unseen creatures in the darkness, the ominous creaking of a decrepit mansion, and the suffocating stillness of a fog-shrouded graveyard.

It’s the careful manipulation of setting, where the environment itself becomes a character, casting a long, foreboding shadow over the narrative.

Crafting a fearful atmosphere is about infusing the very air with an electric charge, making readers feel as if they, too, are tiptoeing through the haunted corridors of the story, their senses heightened, and their hearts pounding in anticipation of the lurking unknown.

It’s an art form that takes readers on a spine-tingling journey, leaving them breathless in the heart of an atmospheric nightmare they won’t soon forget.

How To Describe Fear In Writing

The importance of setting and ambiance

The importance of setting and ambiance in storytelling cannot be overstated; they are the silent architects of narrative immersion.

A carefully crafted setting and ambiance serve as the foundation upon which the entire story is built. They transport readers to far-off realms or plunge them into the heart of a bustling metropolis, enveloping them in a sensory experience that transcends mere words on a page.

Whether it’s the eerie tranquility of a misty, moonlit forest, the frenetic energy of a neon-lit cityscape, or the oppressive silence of an abandoned asylum, the setting and ambiance breathe life into the tale, evoking emotions, shaping characters, and steering the plot.

They are the brushstrokes that paint the backdrop of the story, infusing it with atmosphere, mood, and context.

A masterful use of setting and ambiance has the power to make readers feel as if they’ve stepped into the story itself, forging a visceral connection and immersing them in the narrative’s very essence.

In this way, setting and ambiance are the storyteller’s magic wand, casting a spell that lingers long after the final page is turned.

Utilizing weather and time of day to enhance fear

Utilizing weather and the time of day is a storytelling alchemy that can transform fear into a palpable, living entity.

The choice of a stormy, tempestuous night with torrents of rain can cloak the narrative in a shroud of chaos and obscurity, amplifying the sense of impending doom.

Alternatively, the eerie calm of a moonlit, windless night can magnify the silence and heighten anticipation, where every footstep or whisper becomes a sinister revelation.

Dawn’s faint light may offer a glimmer of hope, while the encroaching darkness of dusk can shroud the world in uncertainty. The interplay between weather and time creates a dynamic interstice in which fear can flourish, setting the stage for chilling encounters and heart-pounding revelations.

By skillfully harnessing these elemental forces, storytellers can manipulate emotions, intensify suspense, and send shivers down the spines of their audience, ensuring that fear is not merely experienced but imprinted deep within the reader’s soul.

Types of Fear

Fear is a kaleidoscope of human emotions, a spectrum that stretches from the subtlest quivers of anxiety to the thunderous crescendo of primal terror.

It’s the quiet unease that tiptoes through our thoughts in the dead of night, the fluttering heart when we stand on the precipice of the unknown, and the bone-chilling dread that lurks in the darkest corners of our minds.

From existential fears that haunt our dreams to phobias that stalk our waking hours, fear takes on a multitude of forms, each with its own distinctive flavor of trepidation. It’s the fear of death, of failure, of the supernatural, of the mundane, and of the intangible.

These types of fear are the shadowy facets of our humanity, casting their enigmatic shapes on the canvas of our lives, compelling us to confront, endure, and sometimes even embrace the very essence of our fears.

Inherent fears (e.g., fear of the dark, fear of the unknown)

Inherent fears, such as the fear of the dark and the fear of the unknown, are the primal echoes of our ancient ancestors’ survival instincts reverberating within us.

The fear of the dark is a deeply rooted apprehension, a vestige of our evolutionary history when darkness concealed predators and threats.

It’s a fear that still tugs at our subconscious, reminding us of the vulnerability that comes with limited visibility. Likewise, the fear of the unknown is a testament to our cognitive curiosity and caution, a fear that drives us to seek knowledge while also acknowledging the potential dangers lurking in uncharted territory.

These inherent fears are the remnants of a time when our survival hinged on vigilance and caution, and they continue to shape our instincts and behaviors, even in the well-lit modern world.

How To Describe Fear In Writing

Character-driven fears (e.g., phobias, traumas)

Character-driven fears, such as phobias and traumas, are the intimate battlegrounds where the complexity of the human psyche unfolds.

Phobias, those irrational and paralyzing fears of specific objects or situations, give characters a distinctive vulnerability, revealing their idiosyncrasies and vulnerabilities.

Whether it’s the fear of heights, spiders, or enclosed spaces, these fears add depth to characters by showcasing their unique quirks and vulnerabilities. Traumas, on the other hand, are the haunting ghosts of past experiences that cast long shadows on a character’s present and future.

They provide a rich tapestry of emotional depth and complexity, driving character development as individuals grapple with their past demons.

Character-driven fears are not just narrative devices; they are the crucibles in which characters are forged and transformed, offering readers a window into the intricate interplay of courage and vulnerability that defines the human condition.

How To Describe Fear In Writing

Situational fears (e.g., imminent danger, suspense)

Situational fears, like imminent danger and suspense, are the literary accelerants that set hearts racing and pulses pounding.

They are the electrifying moments when characters find themselves on the precipice of uncertainty, teetering on the edge of disaster.

Imminent danger, with its nail-biting tension, places characters in the throes of immediate peril, forcing them to summon courage in the face of adversity.

Suspense, on the other hand, is the slow-burning fuse that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, tantalizing them with uncertainty and anticipation.

These situational fears are the adrenaline surges that make narratives pulse with urgency, creating a rollercoaster of emotions that make storytelling an exhilarating ride through the unknown.

In the realm of literature and entertainment, it is situational fears that remind us that within the crucible of uncertainty, the most riveting tales are forged.

Character Reactions to Fear

Character reactions to fear are like the keys to a hidden chamber within the human soul. Fear unlocks a myriad of emotional and physical responses, and in those moments, characters reveal their true essence.

It’s the stammering speech and trembling hands, the racing heartbeats and shortness of breath that betray their vulnerability.

Yet, it’s also the resilience, the fight-or-flight decisions, and the inner strength that fear can unearth. In the dance between terror and tenacity, characters become mirrors reflecting our own humanity back at us.

They embody the essence of courage, showing that in the crucible of fear, heroes are not born; they are revealed, sculpted by their responses to the darkest moments.

Character reactions to fear are the heartbeats of storytelling, pulsing with the raw, unfiltered emotions that make the narrative experience unforgettable.

Describing characters’ physical responses

Describing characters’ physical responses to fear is akin to capturing a symphony of bodily reactions, each note crescendoing in harmony with their emotional turmoil.

It’s the beads of sweat that form like glistening constellations on their foreheads, the tremors that travel like electric currents through their limbs, and the goosebumps that rise like miniature soldiers on their skin.

It’s the quivering lips, the clenched fists, and the racing pulse that reverberate through their very being, painting a vivid portrait of their inner turmoil.

These physical responses to fear are the brushstrokes that render characters three-dimensional, making their vulnerability palpable and their humanity relatable.

In the dance between fear and physiology, writers have the power to convey not just the characters’ emotions but the visceral, tangible experience of fear itself, forging a connection between the reader and the narrative that lingers long after the pages have turned.

Portraying characters’ emotional responses

Portraying characters’ emotional responses to fear is the art of delving deep into the labyrinth of their minds and unraveling the complex tapestry of their feelings.

It’s capturing the initial tremor of anxiety that quivers in the pit of their stomach, the mounting tension that tightens like a vice around their hearts, and the all-encompassing terror that grips their thoughts in an icy vice.

It’s the struggle between fight and flight, the racing thoughts that ricochet through their consciousness, and the haunting, persistent dread that refuses to be silenced.

These emotional responses to fear are the emotional crescendos that bring characters to life, making their inner struggles, doubts, and triumphs resonate with readers on a profoundly human level.

In the hands of a skilled writer, these emotional landscapes become a mirror through which readers can confront their own fears, forging a powerful connection that makes storytelling an immersive and transformative experience.

The Power of Fearful Imagery

The power of fearful imagery lies in its ability to etch itself onto the canvas of our minds, painting scenes that linger long after the words have faded.

It’s the grotesque silhouette lurking in the moonless alley, the ghoulish whisper that rustles through the haunted mansion, and the blood-soaked tapestry of a nightmare that refuses to unravel.

Fearful imagery seizes the reader’s senses, immersing them in a world where shadows breathe and horrors take shape.

It’s the visceral gasp that escapes from trembling lips as the mind’s eye witnesses the macabre, and it’s the lingering unease that sends shivers cascading down the spine.

In the realm of storytelling, fearful imagery is the brush that strokes nightmares onto the canvas of our imagination, forging an indelible connection between reader and narrative, and reminding us that within the darkness, the most haunting stories are born.

Dialogue and Fear

Dialogue and fear are the clandestine dancers of storytelling, engaged in an intricate tango of tension and revelation.

In the hush of whispered confessions and the cacophony of panicked exchanges, characters lay bare their vulnerabilities, their motives, and their deepest anxieties.

Dialogue in the face of fear is the trembling voice that betrays one’s facade, the cryptic words that hint at hidden horrors, and the desperate pleas for reassurance that echo in the silence.

It’s the breathless stutter, the jagged fragments of sentences, and the pregnant pauses that speak volumes. Within the dialogue’s delicate web, characters navigate the treacherous terrain of fear, forging alliances or exposing deceit, and readers are privy to these intimate moments of emotional unraveling.

It’s a symphony of voices and unsaid truths, where fear becomes the conductor, orchestrating a haunting melody that reverberates in the reader’s soul long after the story has ended.

How characters’ speech can convey fear

Characters’ speech can serve as a powerful conduit for the conveyance of fear, where words become both the sword and shield in the battle against the unknown.

In the trembling timbre of their voices and the hesitant cadence of their sentences, fear manifests itself as palpably as a racing heartbeat.

Characters often stutter, struggle to find words, or resort to fragmented utterances when confronted with fear, mirroring the chaos and uncertainty brewing within.

Dialogue tags, like “she whispered in terror” or “he exclaimed, his voice quaking,” provide readers with emotional cues that heighten the sense of impending dread.

The tone of voice, whether quivering or strained, can reveal a character’s emotional state, offering readers a window into their inner turmoil.

Moreover, it’s not just what characters say but what they don’t say, the secrets they guard or the truths they evade, that adds depth to their portrayal of fear through speech.

In this intricate dance of words, characters become living conduits of their own apprehension, allowing readers to intimately experience the visceral impact of fear on the human psyche.

Interactions and communication breakdowns in fearful situations

Interactions and communication breakdowns in fearful situations are like fractured bridges that isolate characters in their own emotional abyss.

Fear, the great disruptor, has a tendency to scramble even the most coherent exchanges. Misunderstandings flourish as characters grapple with their own anxieties and perceptions, rendering them incapable of conveying their thoughts accurately.

Tensions rise, tempers flare, and trust erodes, as fear’s suffocating presence distorts the lens through which characters interpret one another.

In moments of heightened fear, dialogues become battlegrounds where emotional truths collide with misinterpretations, and characters find themselves isolated amidst the wreckage of communication breakdowns.

These situations not only add layers of conflict but also illuminate the intricate web of human relationships, showing how fear can both unite and divide, leaving characters to navigate the treacherous terrain of their own emotions and the intentions of others.

Pacing and Fear

Pacing and fear are the dynamic dance partners of storytelling, orchestrating a heart-pounding symphony that keeps readers teetering on the edge of their seats.

Like a skilled conductor, pacing dictates the rhythm of fear, quickening the pulse during moments of high tension and offering brief, tantalizing respites for readers to catch their breath. It’s the gradual crescendo of suspense, the relentless march of dread, and the explosive climax that leaves hearts racing.

Fear, when paced effectively, is not a mere rollercoaster; it’s a thrilling journey through the labyrinth of uncertainty.

It’s the art of withholding information and then unleashing it with a relentless fury, creating a narrative undertow that drags readers deeper into the abyss of apprehension.

Pacing and fear are the architects of unforgettable storytelling, where timing is everything, and the cadence of dread becomes the soundtrack to the reader’s nightmares.

How To Describe Fear In Writing

Controlling the pacing of fear-inducing scenes

Controlling the pacing of fear-inducing scenes is akin to mastering the art of suspenseful storytelling. It’s about the delicate balance of tightening and releasing tension, drawing readers deeper into the web of fear while allowing them moments to breathe and reflect.

It’s the slow, deliberate buildup of unease, where each word weighs like a heavy stone on the reader’s chest, and the reader’s imagination is left to wander down ominous corridors.

Then, it’s the sudden burst of frenetic action or a shocking revelation that jolts the senses, leaving readers gasping for air.

Skillful pacing in fear-inducing scenes is like a skilled conductor guiding an orchestra, orchestrating a symphony of emotions that crescendos to a heart-pounding climax.

It’s an exquisite dance that leaves readers on the edge of their seats, eager to turn the page but simultaneously apprehensive about what awaits in the shadows.

Effective use of suspense and cliffhangers

Effective use of suspense and cliffhangers is the literary equivalent of a magician’s sleight of hand, masterfully captivating the reader’s attention and leaving them yearning for more.

Suspense is the subtle art of dishing out tantalizing hints, revealing just enough to stoke curiosity but withholding the ultimate revelations.

It’s the unseen threat lurking in the shadows, the unsolved mystery that beckons with every turn of the page. Cliffhangers, on the other hand, are the masterstrokes of narrative manipulation, leaving readers teetering on the precipice of resolution, their hearts racing and minds buzzing with anticipation.

They are the dramatic pause that signals the end of a chapter, but not the end of the story, ensuring that the narrative’s grip on the reader remains unyielding.

Together, suspense and cliffhangers transform storytelling into an irresistible addiction, compelling readers to keep the pages turning long into the night, chasing the elusive satisfaction of closure while savoring the torment of the unknown.

Character Development Through Fear

Character development through fear is the crucible in which the most profound transformations take shape. It’s the relentless forge where courage is tempered, vulnerabilities are exposed, and resilience is honed to a razor’s edge.

When characters confront their deepest fears, they evolve, not just as fictional entities, but as mirrors reflecting the intricate facets of our shared human experience.

Fear becomes the catalyst for growth, unearthing the raw, unfiltered emotions that define the human condition.

It’s the haunting shadow that forces characters to confront their inner demons, revealing their strengths and weaknesses, their hopes and insecurities.

In the symphony of storytelling, character development through fear is the crescendo, the moment when the ordinary are forged into the extraordinary, leaving readers spellbound by the transformative power of the narrative journey.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about How To Describe Fear In Writing

Certainly! Here are some uniquely written frequently asked questions (FAQs) about describing fear in writing:

What’s the secret to making readers genuinely feel the fear in my writing?

Capturing genuine fear in your writing involves a combination of sensory details, relatable character reactions, and a deep understanding of the psychological aspects of fear. It’s about creating an immersive experience that taps into the reader’s emotions.

Can I describe fear in a way that goes beyond common clichés?

Absolutely! Instead of relying on tired clichés like “heart pounding” or “sweat dripping,” try using fresh metaphors, unique sensory experiences, and unexpected comparisons to evoke fear. This will make your descriptions stand out.

How do I balance subtlety and intensity when describing fear?

Achieving the right balance depends on your story’s context. Sometimes, subtle hints and foreshadowing can build tension effectively, while other situations may call for intense, in-your-face fear descriptions. It’s about adapting to your narrative’s needs.

Can fear be a character in my story?

Absolutely! Fear can be personified as a character’s constant companion, a lurking presence, or even a formidable antagonist. This unique approach can add depth and complexity to your storytelling.

Are there cultural or regional nuances to consider when describing fear?

Yes, cultural and regional differences can influence how fear is perceived and expressed. Researching these nuances can add authenticity to your writing and help you connect with a diverse audience.

How can I use symbolism to convey fear in a subtle yet powerful way?

Symbolism can be a powerful tool. Consider using objects, animals, or recurring motifs that symbolize fear in your story. This can add layers of meaning and intrigue for attentive readers.

Are there unconventional narrative structures or styles for describing fear?

Experiment with narrative structures and styles that mirror the chaotic nature of fear. This might include nonlinear timelines, stream-of-consciousness writing, or even interactive storytelling techniques to immerse readers in the experience.

Can humor be used to describe fear effectively?

Yes, humor can be a unique way to describe fear. By juxtaposing fear with humor, you can create tension and surprise, making the fear even more impactful when it finally surfaces.

How do I ensure that my descriptions of fear resonate emotionally with readers?

To resonate emotionally, make sure your descriptions of fear connect with universal human experiences and emotions. Readers should be able to empathize with the characters and their fears on a personal level.

Can I use multiple points of view to convey fear from different perspectives in a single scene?

Absolutely! Shifting between different characters’ points of view in a fear-inducing scene can provide a multifaceted exploration of fear, showcasing how it affects each character uniquely. Remember, the key to effectively describing fear in writing is creativity and a willingness to experiment with different techniques and styles to engage your readers emotionally and intellectually.

In the art of describing fear in writing , we have embarked on a voyage into the very heart of human experience, where the primal emotions of anxiety, dread, and terror find their voice on the page.

Through the interplay of vivid imagery, psychological insight, and the careful manipulation of atmosphere and pacing, we have unraveled the threads of fear’s tapestry, weaving it seamlessly into the narratives we create.

Fear, in all its manifestations, is a timeless and universal force, a reflection of the human condition itself.

As we conclude our exploration, we are reminded that the power of fear in storytelling lies not only in its ability to terrify but also in its capacity to connect, to provoke introspection, and to offer a cathartic journey through the darkest corners of our imagination.

Whether we are crafting tales of horror, suspense, or emotional turmoil, the art of describing fear allows us to engage readers on a profound level, inviting them to confront their own fears and emerge from the written word forever changed.

As writers, we hold within our pens the ability to evoke the visceral sensations of fear, making our stories unforgettable, and leaving an indelible mark on the reader’s soul.

Related Posts:

  • How To Describe Nervousness In Writing (13 Best Ways)
  • How To Describe A Panic Attack In Writing (10…
  • How To Describe Being kidnapped In Writing (15 Best Ways)
  • How To Describe A Scary Clown in Writing (13 Best Ways)
  • How To Write Nightmare Scenes In Writing (10 Best Ways)
  • How To Describe A Fire In Writing (11 Best Steps You…

Similar Posts

How To Describe Alcohol In Writing (10 Important Steps)

How To Describe Alcohol In Writing (10 Important Steps)

Introducing the art of describing alcohol in writing is akin to opening the doors to a sensory wonderland where words become the palette for crafting exquisite experiences. The allure of this endeavor lies in the capacity to transport readers to the heart of convivial gatherings, into dimly lit speakeasies, or across sun-drenched vineyards, all through…

How To Describe A Greedy Person (11 Best Ways, Synonyms & Examples)

How To Describe A Greedy Person (11 Best Ways, Synonyms & Examples)

Describing a greedy person is like unravelling the layers of a complex character, a journey into the intricate web of human desires and motivations. Greed, a universal human trait, transcends cultures, epochs, and personalities, yet its manifestations are as diverse as the individuals who embody it. It is a concept that both repels and fascinates…

How To Describe A Fire In Writing (11 Best Steps You Need To Know)

How To Describe A Fire In Writing (11 Best Steps You Need To Know)

In the realm of storytelling, the art of description is a potent alchemy, a magical brew that transports readers into the heart of a narrative’s world. Among the many elements that writers weave into their tapestry of words, fire stands as a captivating and elemental force. Describing fire in writing isn’t merely an exercise in…

How To Describe A Panic Attack In Writing (10 significant steps)

How To Describe A Panic Attack In Writing (10 significant steps)

Describing a panic attack in writing is akin to navigating a tumultuous sea of emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. It is an endeavor that calls for a delicate balance between empathy and precision, as the writer strives to convey the complex and often overwhelming experience of panic with authenticity. Through carefully chosen words, vivid imagery,…

Talking About The Weather In English (11 Steps You Need To Know)

Talking About The Weather In English (11 Steps You Need To Know)

Talking about the weather in English may seem like a simple and mundane endeavor, yet it’s a conversation topic that transcends linguistic borders and cultural boundaries. It’s an art form, an everyday ritual, and a universal connector. Weather talk is the small talk that opens doors to more profound discussions, the social glue that bonds…

How To Describe Flashback Scenes In Writing (12 Steps You Need To Know)

How To Describe Flashback Scenes In Writing (12 Steps You Need To Know)

Introducing readers to the art of describing flashback scenes in writing is akin to inviting them on a captivating journey through time within the pages of a story. Flashbacks, those narrative windows into a character’s past, are potent tools that, when wielded skillfully, can breathe life into a narrative, deepen character development, and illuminate the…

  • Write For Us


Writing Fear that Will Give You the Shivers

creative writing to describe fear

When you write about fear, you want your readers to experience anything from a tingle between their shoulder blades to blood-curdling horror. Writing effective fear is a good trick to master. Here’s a look at the mechanics behind fear, the elements that make up a perfect horror flick, and the techniques you can use to terrify your readers.

Different Types of Fear

You can be irrationally scared of ducks, but not in the same way that you are rationally afraid of drowning. You can fear an immediate risk, like when you’re trapped in a burning house, or you can fear the might-be risks, like when you have a flat tire in the middle of the night on some unknown road.

Fear is varied. It’s also character-specific. Some people tend to be scared because of active imaginations; others might jump at noises because they suffer PTSD; yet others are simply rationally afraid of being hurt.

You have to know what moves your character to fear in order to take advantage of it.

Fear, Biologically

Fear comes down to a change in metabolism and organ functions at the presence of a perceived risk. Here are some symptoms that follow:

  • Your glands start releasing adrenaline
  • Your heartbeat and breathing rate go up
  • Your pupils dilate to let in more light
  • Your sensitivity to noise, motion, and touch goes up through the roof
  • Your perception of time passage might heighten
  • You feel the “fight or flight” mechanism in action
  • In extremes, you might experience a “freeze” reaction

Use these common reactions as a baseline for your characters’ behavior when scared.

Your Own Fears

Close your eyes and think of the two or three scariest things you’ve ever experienced. Dig  deep . Often you will draw from your own fear in some way to write horror—yes, even if you haven’t been buried alive and that’s in the cards for your character.

Make a list of what you were thinking, feeling, smelling, and hearing during these experiences. Involve your senses and your memory. Write down the buzz-words. Now, you can take your reaction and work it into a scene. Don’t be afraid to have fun with it, and if you find it hard to write about, create a character and make  them  do it. (Note: This is therapeutic, too, for those hard-to-deal-with events.)

Learn From Others

Who is your Master of Horror? Find what thrills you and take it in like a sponge. Read and watch all the suspense and horror you can find, even some things out of your genre. Break the language barrier, too: Koji Suzuki’s  Ringu  (which became the Japanese horror movie Ringu and the remake The Ring) is an excellent example.

Break these stories and storylines down: What’s scary and why? What’s a cheap thrill and jump scare, and what’s long-term suspense?

A good horror book or movie makes you jump in all the right bits; an  excellent  one makes you go to bed and pull the covers over your head just in case. Great horror just sticks. One example is IT and the fact that many are scared of clowns decades after.

Fear That Sticks

Set the atmosphere when you write. Dim the lights, put on scary music. You know you’re writing great horror—and I’ve heard many best-selling authors say this—when you manage to scare the daylights out of  yourself .

Mathematical Terms

In 2004, researchers came up with the perfect formula for what elements makes a horror movie  scary :

(ES + U + CS + T) squared + S + (TL + F)/2 + (A + DR + FS)/N + sin(x) – 1

Yes, that looks like enough math to terrify anyone. Let’s go over it section by section.

You get more fear (squared) when you add up  EScalating music , the  Unknown ,  Chase Scenes  and being (or feeling)  Trapped .

You get some fear when you add  Shock.

You can add fear by creating a good blend of  True Life and Fantasy  (too much of either might undermine your efforts).

You get fear from being  Alone  in a  Dark Room  with an ominous  Film Setting , but that effect might decrease when the  Number  of characters rises.

Near the end, sin(x) represents  Gore . Note that sin(x) can take a positive or a negative value, which means that there is definitely such a thing as too much and too little gore.

Finally, we have – 1 to represent  Stereotypes , which are a bad habit anywhere and can kill a horror story by making it banal.

That’s every slasher movie ever made in mathematical terms. Those, you’ll notice, are also elements contained in most suspense, horror, thriller, and crime books and you can apply them to figure out just how effective your scene is. (In case you were wondering, Kubrick’s  The Shining topped the study.)

Going Over the Top

It becomes easy to go overboard when writing horror. Here are some points for what to avoid:

  • It’s not all about cheap thrills, jump scares and gore; subtle horror goes further and eventually readers will notice if you’re trying to cheat them out of it.
  • “Nobody would do that!” is not something you want people to think when they read your story. Put thought into how people would rationally react put into that situation.
  • Horror can also be pushed to the point where the reader thinks it is completely unnecessary, just disgusting and not scary at all. There  is  a line. Don’t step over it.
  • There are very few “damsels in distress” in the old sense, and you should never push that line to create a completely helpless character.
  • Horror for children can be scary, but never  too  scary. (A great piece on this is  Writing Horror for Children  by François Bloemhof; you can find that collected in  Horror 101: The Way Forward . )

Armed with this knowledge of fear, go scare your readers, and most importantly, yourself!

About the author

Alex j coyne.

Alex J Coyne is an author, freelance journalist and language practitioner. He has written for international publications and blogs, been featured on radio and appeared in NB Publishers’ Skrik op die Lyf, an Afrikaans horror collection. Visit his website and get in touch at

Leave a Comment X

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

We know, we hate these, too. But we do care about your privacy, and we will never sell your information. By continuing to use Re:Fiction, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy .

All right No, thanks.

All Write Alright

Writing About Fears and Phobias

creative writing to describe fear

Fear is a complicated emotion that involves pronounced emotional, physiological, and behavioral elements. To write fear well means you’re going to need to address each of those elements, while also taking into consideration the character’s personal history and why their fears developed. 

Like any of the major emotions, fear has a way of creeping into stories of just about every genre. If you’re writing a romance, you may have a character feel afraid of rejection as they plan to profess their love. If you’re writing something with action or horror elements, a character may encounter another person who poses a threat to their safety. In any story, however, a character may be afraid of bees or heights, or other things they could encounter at any time. If you can’t properly convey the feeling of fear in these situations, an otherwise good scene could end up feeling very shallow. 

What is the Character Afraid Of?

There are two major types of fear: rational and irrational. 

  • Rational fears are fears that make sense, such as being afraid of death or something that could cause serious bodily harm. In most cases, rational fears arise from genuine dangers; if there’s a good reason to be afraid of something, then it’s a rational fear to have. 
  • Irrational fears are fears that don’t make sense, and they vary from person to person. Someone might be afraid of clowns, even though clowns pose no real danger to anyone’s personal safety. Other examples are fear of worms, cats, holes, or ghosts. In other words, if there’s no reason to be afraid of something, and yet someone is afraid of it anyway, then that fear is irrational. 

Of these two, the one you’re going to need to think about the most is irrational fears —otherwise known as phobias . Everyone is afraid of suffering or dying, so that’s not as important to consider right away. Rather, consider what things your character is afraid of that sets them apart from their peers. Are they afraid of large bodies of water? Of getting lost? Of mushrooms?

Keep in mind that phobias are a type of character flaw. Character flaws exist to add depth to a plot by creating obstacles for a character to contend with or overcome, as well as allowing readers a deeper understanding of the character’s past and personality. If you give your characters a phobia, but they never encounter what they are afraid of in the story itself, then there is no real reason to give them that phobia in the first place. 

For more information on how to deal with character flaws in your story, check out How to Create Complex Flaws for Characters .

Why is the Character Afraid?

creative writing to describe fear

Now that you’re thinking about what your character is afraid of, you need to also start considering why they’re afraid of that—as well as how you can use that fear to your advantage in the narrative. 

As we’ve discussed above, many fears are innate or entirely rational. In that case, the answer to the question of why the character is afraid of something would be very straightforward. No one wants to be maimed or killed or otherwise put in harm’s way. Other completely understandable fears include getting lost, losing a loved one, or getting sick. But what about when a character’s fears are not so easily explained? 

Many fears result from past experiences. If someone is afraid of dogs, it may be because they were bitten by a dog in the past. If someone is afraid of clowns, it could be because someone they looked up to as a kid was also afraid of clowns, and they learned to be afraid too. You don’t need to do a lot of work to tie the character’s phobias to their backstory, but you should at least consider the origin of these fears so you can make their reactions to them deeper and more meaningful. 

Fears are complex, however, and can arise for a number of reasons. Not all fears have an easily identifiable cause, and others could have deep psychological explanations. Different people can be afraid of the same thing for entirely different reasons. For example, someone may fear large crowds because of the noise, while someone else may be afraid of crowds because of how easy it would be to get lost in a crowd, whereas another person may fear crowds because of the potential social demands of being around many other people. Other things, such as a person’s neurotype , can influence the way they interpret their surroundings and contextualize their experience too. 

Fears are more impactful if there is depth to the way they are experienced. If your characters have deep and meaningful reasons for being afraid of something, you need to clue readers in to the complex emotions and memories at play. 

Writing about “Fight or Flight”

“Fight or flight” is a phrase used to describe the physiological response a person experiences as a result of being afraid. Fight or flight, also known as “acute stress response,” causes the release of adrenaline and several other changes that allow a person to react quickly to a threat. 

Because of this response, the character experiencing acute stress may also experience:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Flushed face
  • Trembling 
  • Shallow breathing
  • Nausea 
  • Chills 
  • Rapid heart rate

However, although the physiological reaction to fear is universal, the behavioral reaction is not. There are four major types of reactions to threats that a person can exhibit, though there are variations within each category as well. These different reactions are known as:

  • Fight: This type of reaction is characterized by a person becoming aggressive and standing their ground as if to physically fight off a threat. However, this reaction can be triggered even when there is no physical threat to actually fight. 
  • Flight: This type of reaction is characterized by a person attempting to flee or hide. They may attempt to hide behind another person, run away, or cover their face. 
  • Freeze: This type of reaction is characterized by a person freezing up in the face of fear, often becoming incapable of moving or making a decision on their own. Like a kind of paralysis, this prevents a person from moving away from the threat in favor of not being noticed by it. 
  • Fawn: This type of reaction is characterized by a person trying to prevent a threat from occurring in the first place by being compliant with whatever or whoever is making them afraid. It is most common in survivors of abuse, who are used to trying to appease an abuser to prevent more abuse from taking place. However, it can also be triggered in other situations where the fear results from another person, rather than an animal, concept, or situation. 

Of course, a character can experience different reactions in different situations. If they are confronted by a wild animal, their instinct may be to freeze, while if they are spooked by an actor in a haunted house attraction, their reaction may be to fight the poor employee in the ghost costume.

A character’s personality, and their experiences with each individual trigger, is going to help determine how they respond to fear at a given moment. In addition to that, other environmental factors can influence how a person reacts to fear. When alone, a person may flee, but if they are with others, they may be more inclined to stay and fight. Take a look at the setting, the object of the character’s fear, the other characters present in the scene, and any other factors to help you determine the way a character will respond. 

The Body Language of Fear

creative writing to describe fear

As with any emotion, it is almost always better to “ show, don’t tell ” when it comes to writing about fear. 

This is probably a phrase you’ve heard a million times before, but if you want a refresher, you can check out Show, Don’t Tell: What It Is and How to Use It (With Examples) .

One of the easiest ways to utilize the principle of “show, don’t tell” is to rely on body language. The way a character moves and speaks can indicate how they are feeling without you having to tell readers “they are scared.” However, the body language exhibited by a character who’s afraid of something is going to depend on their reaction to that fear (fight, flight, freeze, or fawn). 

Here are some examples:

  • Fight: A character who instinctively reacts with the “fight” response is probably going to scowl, clench their fists, and stand with a wide stance. They could also stand protectively in front of others who are around them. Alternatively, they could lash out unexpectedly, instinctively trying to beat back whatever perceived threat has them scared. 
  • Flight: A character who reacts with the “flight” response may grab onto something or someone, retreat back several steps, hold their arms close to their chest, or flinch noticeably. They are also more likely to cover their face with their hands, hide behind other people or objects, shriek, scream, and cry.
  • Freeze: A character who reacts with the “freeze” response will quite literally freeze where they are standing. They may stare—either at their fear or off at nothing at all—or glance around frantically, and their limbs will still likely tremble. They could also be shocked silent, or they could mumble to themself or whine. 
  • Fawn: A character who reacts with the “fawn” response will appear to make themself as small as possible. They may hunch over, wrap their arms around themself, or even go down on their knees. Like the flight response, they are also more likely to cry, but they may also try to mask how they feel with a fake smile

Additionally, a character who is scared may engage in what’s known as “self-soothing behaviors” to try to calm down or ground themself. Here are some examples of what those behaviors look like:

  • Rocking back and forth
  • Shaking their hands
  • Wrapping their arms around themself
  • Chewing on their lip
  • Clasping their hands together tightly
  • Gripping someone or something tightly
  • Breathing slowly and deliberately 
  • Clenching their jaw
  • Fidgeting 
  • Picking at their fingernails
  • Holding their breath

For more information on how to use body language to cue readers in to how a character is feeling, make sure to check out Writing Body Language: Bringing Your Characters to Life next! 

Using Fear to Reveal More About a Character

The way a character reacts to being afraid can reveal a lot about who they are. Fear is great at revealing a person’s true colors, and betraying elements of their personality and past that they otherwise would not discuss. It’s also not uncommon for people to behave seemingly out of character when they are afraid. For example, someone who is ordinarily tough may become timid and quiet when they are scared, while someone who is ordinarily skittish could behave courageously under pressure. A person who is ordinarily very calm and collected could reveal a more aggressive side of themself when they are exposed to something they fear. 

You can also use a character’s fears to give readers subliminal context to that character’s backstory. If a character is afraid of people yelling, that could indicate they have experienced abuse in their past, without you having to explain that explicitly. 

Just by planning ahead a little, you can use fear to reveal many things about a character’s true personality, the way they think, and what they could be hiding.

creative writing to describe fear

Friend's Email Address

Your Email Address

Pawners Paper

  • Book Review
  • Non Fiction
  • Literary News
  • Call For Submissions
  • Literary Magazines
  • Affiliate Shop


Featured post, telling stories, breaking stigmas: agbeye oburumu's short film "fadeless scars" captures domestic violence through a compelling narrative.

  ... Every domestic abuse is tailored towards a consequential result or end, fueled by spite and hatred, and hinged on causes that momentar...

creative writing to describe fear

Writing Fear: How To Describe Fear In Writing — Pawners Paper

Writing fear. Ways on how to describe fear in writing and fear of writing and other exclusive way to overcome fear of writing signatures

What is Writing Fear: How To Describe Fear In Writing

Writing Fear: How To Describe Fear In Writing — Pawners Paper

How to Describe Fear In Writing

  • Nervousness
  • Horror 

Fear Of Writing: Overcoming The Writing Fear

  • Believe more in yourself.
  • Don't copy other people's style of writing. Each writer has his own unique style of writing and that makes him different.
  • It's good to be different, but the better.
  • Learn to write at least more than 1000 words every day. Stephen. King, the most acknowledged horror author affirmed this.
  • Don't discouraged.
  • Always edit, re-edit the first draft. First draft are often times an undiluted stream of thoughts.
  • Read more books. Learn from other writers.
  • Build more on yourself.
  • Attend seminars if necessary.

Fear Of Writing Signatures.


  • Advertise With Us

Sharing is caring

|recent posts$type=blogging$m=0$cate=0$sn=0$rm=0$c=12$va=0.

  • Opportunities
  • Call for Submission
  • Essay Contests
  • Photography
  • Book Reviews
  • Literary Events
  • Freelancing
  • Popular Authors Biographies
  • Non-Fiction
  • Flash Fiction
  • Publishers weekly
  • African (65)
  • Articles (143)
  • Book Reviews (10)
  • Call for Submission (101)
  • Contest (383)
  • Education (21)
  • Essay Contests (54)
  • Fiction (11)
  • Flash Fiction (3)
  • Freelancing (6)
  • Literary Events (7)
  • Literary Magazines (121)
  • Literary News (88)
  • Literature (14)
  • Non-Fiction (4)
  • Opportunities (154)
  • Photography (12)
  • Poetry (81)
  • Publishers weekly (2)
  • Romance (12)

/fa-clock-o/ |TRENDING$type=list

' border=


Comments_$type=list-tab$com=0$c=4$src=recent-comments, random_$type=list-tab$date=0$au=0$c=5$src=random-posts, /fa-fire/ year popular$type=one.

' border=

Subscribe To Pawners Paper

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms And Conditions

Footer Social$type=social_icons


Search for creative inspiration

19,885 quotes, descriptions and writing prompts, 4,964 themes

fear - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing

  • a panic attack
  • an Abandoned child
  • anticipation
  • apprehensive
  • being put on guard
  • being scared
  • claustrophobia
  • difficult emotions
  • fear of loss
  • haunted building
  • house of horrors
  • i don't care
  • Masking fear
  • negative emotions
  • Social anxiety
  • true emotions
When the chance to connect comes, when I see my holy grail, the monster appears to tell me that pain is ahead. Thus the chasm I see is the mirage fear creates, my future is a step beyond, one stride. And as I take it all the while the monster speaks of betrayal, abandonment and the worst of memories. I know that when the sun rises tomorrow I will be glad I endured, that I landed safe and sound on virgin hallowed ground.
I swallow my own fear to expand the safe zone of others, to become the stoic leader they deserve.
My fear of loss is proof of my love for you, on that you can depend. The curse is the blessing as the blessing is the curse. Love is tough, but I'm tough enough.
Fear is natural and there to keep you alive and happy, yet where it has been weaponised and fashioned into a cage, one is honour bound to break free.
When we become great teachers of emotional intelligence we will delete the alt-right. When we explain how their new linguistics is acting as an catalyst for emotional indifference - the biological opposite of love - people will start to question how these subcultures are recoding and reprogramming their brains into isolated emotional spaces where they cannot access the love they need for good health. "Wrongthink" is made of "wrong" and "think" and will both ping the amygdala and (in some people) the PAG. This changes brain chemistry and traps people into their primitive brains, the parts that will prepare them for genocide and war, the parts that are incapable of empathy, logic and self control - all of the most desirable traits in humanity. Thus they unwittingly destroy that which they claim to seek - now, that is stupid, that is really, really fucking stupid. Alt-right delete. Let's do it.
When I'm feeling triggered the world and everyone it is behind fifty feet of glass. Loving bonds become inaccessible. In this mode I have to take great care not to damage bonds of love, the relationships and people who are everything to my heart and soul. For in time the glass disappears and my love returns. I wish I could stop the triggering, but if I feel unprotected or left to fend for myself it returns - it is survival mode, cold and indifferent. Yet even in these times I am cognisant of my morality. I still make good choices. I can still imagine what the better version of me would want me to do and then carry that out. I can't undo the trauma I've been through, but I can adapt and overcome.
Our fears can be triggered by real threats and by memories of threats. Humans find it challenging to unlearn fears. Thus when we realise that we are scared we must ask ourselves how real the threat is or if we have begun to generalise fear and seek evidence to cement it rather than challenge it. To remain well balanced and with good perspective we must always remain willing to ask ourselves these difficult questions, hone into our true emotions and see people as they really are. The prize for doing all this right is a well functioning society, the punishment for getting it wrong is run-away-paranoia. The former makes friendships, the latter makes enemies whom could have been friends. That said, if after analysis you find the threat to have real force and impact, take action to protect yourself, to protect those you love and call in allies to provide support. In summary, my love, fears can be real, ghosts of real fears, or entirely imagined. It takes courage to figure out your own fears, to face them and question them, but it is worth it.
When we are afraid, when we are under stress, we speed up our brain's "angry-face search app" but, as we get faster, we get less accurate. We start to see angry faces that aren't there, reading calm faces as angry. And the stress hormones don't choose what we fear, they amp up whatever we've learned to fear. That's why society falls apart under ongoing stress - cracking us at our weak-points, spreading hate and indifference like a damn virus.
The wise let fear school them yet never fool them, for then they are ever free to learn, to make better choices, to become heroes.
It tell myself that the fear is simply brain chemicals, my amygdala pinged, and then I try to analyse the situation as I may without it. I try to imagine it from the outside, as if it were a movie and not real life. Then I ask myself what my "character" should do. It helps me to make better choices.
This fear is my challenge and my demon to slay, for it will come until I do, unannounced and gnarly. The only way out is to order this brain to function, to demand solutions instead of this crazy-making circling anxiety. So though it feels as if my bones have no more strength and my muscles are all out of power, I still have the option to remain still, to be quiet enough to choose how to fight.
Look, Sebastian, to quote my favourite TV show, "Fear is wisdom in the face of danger." It's a good thing to be tuned in enough to feel fear and figure out why it's there and what to do about it; that's what bravery is. You have to be brave to feel that fear long enough to analyse it and keep your self control. Because when we learn about it, it gives us a real chance to care better for others when they are scared, to be kind when others need help. Those who demand resiliency of others should ask themselves if it is loving and empathic to do so, for repeated exposure to harm and stress causes damage in the brain, whereas love, nurture and compassion build a stronger brain that gives a natural resiliency. When I am afraid, I remind myself that my good decision making ability is temporarily offline and I need to wait before I can figure things out, wait for my brain's usual connections to resume.
It's not predictable anger or pain that's the worst, it's the "randoms," stuff you know is coming, just never when. The randoms work on the mind as a torture, elevating primal fear, decreasing logic and self-control. That's how Curt keeps his iron grip, by exploding about small things he can blame on one of us. It's mind control 101 and I want out. I want to be around folks who talk calmly instead of attaching their fucking jump-leads to my amygdala, igniting it at their pleasure.
Being with Arc was like resting in a house while a gale raged outside, like in her presence time itself became more calm. She always said the root of all fears, the rotten root of mankind, is the "fear of need" and our task is to meet this fear with the same resistance a rock shows to wind - that the resolved person lets fear blow around them and remains resolute in a will to be kind.
Who made you afraid, my love? Afraid of the future and the past? For neither exist in any place but the imagination, even memory must be imagined. Thus fear is a kind of madness, but one that is useful if you know how it works. Fear will take you by the hand to the things you keep and guard as precious. Always face fear with courage, understand it, and then let it go. Let these fears wake you up, let them show you the way to your true self, to the brave soul whose love shines like a star. For without fear, love is brighter, stronger, deeper. When you find yourself, my love, you will be your own master, fully healed, and your last fear will be of your own strength.
You poured gasoline onto the spark of fear in my belly. It's not like you thought was alright; I was far away from any inner peace. You took words and fashioned them into a knife, sinking it in with cold black eyes. All I ever did was offer you my hand. All I ever did was offer love and ask for help.
If you are afraid of sunshine, Even the sun is scary to you. If you are afraid of rain, Even a sweet shower is scary to you. For if you love sunshine, If you love rain, They are a lullaby for the soul. Fear lives not in the world, But within the mind. So when fear calls at your door, Bang, bang, bang... Ask why you are afraid. And then you will find, There is only sunlight in your doorway, Only gentle rain in your garden.
Fear is shackles, fear is a knife in the gut slowly twisted, fear is a constant hammer on the head. Yet fear also evaporates like water under an early summer sun. When fear comes walk with confidence right past, because like the ghosts of children's nightmares, fear is an illusion.
"Fear is part of being human, David, it's the precursor to bravery. We need it, it wakes us up to what needs to be done. So feel it, own it, let it ignite your thoughts."
We both see delicate spring blooms. I see life as so robust that the flowers come back season after season, Igor sees them as transitory - soon to be trampled under foot. We both feel the sunlight growing stronger. I feel warmth and look forward to the harvest, Igor shrinks inside and worries about burns and insect bites. We both know the goodness in our community. I know we can push forwards and grow in an enlightened way, Igor "knows" that the people from other religions will come to spoil it and take over, ruining our progress. But Igor confuses knowledge with fear. There are so many problems in the world, I'm not blind to it, my eyes are open too. But I don't see big religion, people as part of "herds" or "gangs," I see billions of broken hearts reaching out to know they are loved by the Divine, and they are. All of them, every single one. So I'm feeling optimistic. Our enemy isn't people at all, they are all born in innocence, there never was an "evil" baby. Cultures shape our minds, religions can inspire goodness or fear and bigotry. Cultures can change if infused with Love and mutual understanding. Fear breeds fear and shuts us off from the true inner voice of our moral compass. People are good, human nature is just fine, culture we can change and more rapidly than people think. I reach out with Love because Love heals, Love makes us whole, Love elevates us to better and more noble thought patterns. The glass is still half full and I know we can make it if we try.

Sign in or sign up for Descriptionar i

Sign up for descriptionar i, recover your descriptionar i password.

Keep track of your favorite writers on Descriptionari

We won't spam your account. Set your permissions during sign up or at any time afterward.

Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents?  Click here! →

creative writing to describe fear

The Craft Of Fear Mongering: How (And Why) To Scare Your Readers

by Writer's Relief Staff | Craft: Novel Writing , Craft: Short Story Writing , Creative Writing Craft and Techniques , Literary Agents , Other Helpful Information , Publish A Novel , Publish Short Stories , Short Stories | 2 comments

Review Board is now open! Submit your Short Prose, Poetry, and Book today!

Deadline: thursday, october 19th.

The Craft Of Fear Mongering: How (And Why) To Scare Your Readers

Updated May 2023

Writers can suffer from recurring nightmares: you know, the one where the literary agent at the conference laughs at you in front of your friends, or the one where you’re naked at open mic night (or is that just us?). Fear gets down deep in the human consciousness, and if you as a writer aren’t exploiting fear to the utmost in your short stories or novel, then you’re missing a golden opportunity.

Even if you’re not writing in the horror or thriller genre , a healthy dose of fear is essential in your story. Fear creates rounded characters and lots of page-turning tension. Read on as we show you how to scare up a little extra fear in your story.

Writing Technique: Make Your Readers More Afraid

1. Ask yourself: What are your main character’s deepest fears? Dig deep and discover what your characters hate most, what they least want to see happen in their lives, what they can’t bear to lose. Then—go for the jugular and make them face that fear. How will they get by if the worst happens?

2. Key in to emotional fear. Some characters’ greatest fear will be losing a loved one, or discovering a spouse is cheating, or blurting a friend’s secret by accident. Find out what your character is afraid of, emotionally. Then—you knew this was coming—see what happens when that character is given a taste (or a heap) of what he/she fears most.

Submit to Review Board

3. Ratchet up external fears. Along with your character’s emotional fears, consider introducing external elements that cause fear. This could range from serial killers to falling off a bike. Put your character in physical danger in order to keep your readers on the edges of their seats. Sometimes, a brush with death (or an injury) can lead a character to deep epiphanies.

4. Think like a child. You know what kids are afraid of, right? Monsters under the bed. Aliens. Dinosaurs… Fear of the outrageous or not-quite-believable is normal. And if you’re writing in a genre that can bend the rules of reality, be as creative as you like as you manipulate otherworldly beings for your own enjoyment! (Just be sure you check under your desk and in your closet when you’re done.)

5. Mess with our brains. Drop your character into a world that seems to be one thing but is actually something else. You’ll keep your character guessing (as well as your readers), and as you gradually let on that reality is not “real,” the fear level will begin to climb. Will your character get out of the fake world or be trapped there forever?

Fear isn’t just an emotion; it’s an effective tool that can propel your writing to the next level. Be sure that your characters’ sense of fear is balanced with the thing that causes the fear to begin with—audiences tend to hate when you overdo it or lay it on too thick. But most of all, have fun!

Writer Questions

I need to write a story introduction of the title ‘fear’. i’m trying to gather some ideas i’d appreciate some helppppp

Blog Editor

You may find this article of interest:

Submit a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Submit Comment

creative writing to describe fear

See ALL the services we offer, from FREE to Full Service!

Click here for a Writer’s Relief Full Service Overview

creative writing to describe fear

Services Catalog

creative writing to describe fear

Free Publishing Leads and Tips!

  • Name * First Name
  • Email * Enter Email Confirm Email
  • Comments This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

creative writing to describe fear

Featured Articles

creative writing to describe fear

Featured Video

  • Facebook 121k Followers
  • Twitter 114k Followers
  • YouTube 5k Followers
  • Instagram 5.5k Followers
  • LinkedIn 143.6k Followers
  • Pinterest 33.4k Followers
  • Name * First
  • E-mail * Enter Email Confirm Email
  • Email This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider know-how has helped writers get over 18,000 acceptances.

  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!


  • Name This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Pin It on Pinterest

creative writing to describe fear

Writing Beginner

How to Describe Nervousness in Writing (23 Tips + Examples)

How do you move beyond simple statements like “She was nervous” to create a vivid, believable depiction of anxiety?

Here is how to describe nervousness in writing:

Describe nervousness in writing by using vivid language and sensory details. Show physical symptoms like shaking hands or quick breathing. Use dialogue tags such as “stammered,” internal dialogue, and pacing to build tension. Use words like “jittery” or “heart pounding” to deepen emotional impact.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to describe nervousness in writing.

23 Best Tips for Describing Nervousness in Writing

Digital image of a cartoon woman who is nervous - How to Describe Nervousness in Writing

In this section, you’ll find 23 tips and techniques, complete with examples, that will guide you in portraying nervousness with nuance and depth.

Read all the way through and then pick the tips that speak to you the most.

1) Demonstrate, Don’t Describe

One of the cardinal rules of effective writing is to show rather than tell.

Instead of merely stating that a character is nervous, portray their anxiety through actions or implications.

This strategy draws the reader into the experience, making it more relatable and impactful.

Example : Instead of writing “John was nervous about the interview,” you could say, “John’s hands trembled as he straightened his tie one last time before stepping into the interview room.”

2) Use Body Language

Body language can be an incredible tool for conveying a character’s nervousness.

The slight tremble in the hands, fidgeting feet, or erratic movement can speak volumes.

In focusing on body language, you give your reader visual cues to better understand the character’s state of mind.

Example : Rather than simply stating “Emily was nervous before her speech,” describe how “Emily kept shifting from one foot to another, her fingers incessantly twirling a strand of hair.”

3) Incorporate Inner Monologue

A character’s inner thoughts offer an unfiltered glimpse into their emotional state.

For nervousness, consider incorporating internal monologue that captures the essence of the character’s fears or concerns.

This internal conversation can range from panicked thoughts to rationalizing statements.

Example : Instead of writing, “Sarah was nervous about the test,” you could write, “‘You can do this, you’ve prepared,’ Sarah thought, attempting to drown out the rising tide of panic that whispered, ‘But what if you fail?’”

4) Employ Facial Expressions

Facial expressions are highly expressive indicators of emotion.

A clenched jaw, furrowed brows, or widened eyes can all be signs of nervousness.

Including these details enriches the imagery and allows the reader to visualize the emotion vividly.

Example : Instead of saying, “Mark was nervous about the confrontation,” you could describe how “Mark’s eyes darted around the room, avoiding eye contact, his lips pinched in a tight line.”

5) Manipulate Pace and Sentence Structure

The pacing of your sentences can mirror the character’s emotional tempo.

Short, choppy sentences can create a feeling of urgency or disquiet, while long, winding sentences may denote an overwrought mind that’s spiraling out of control.

Example : Instead of “Lisa was anxious,” you might write, “Lisa’s thoughts tumbled over each other, a jumbled mess of ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys,’ her heart pounding as if keeping time with her spiraling anxiety.”

6) Use Metaphors and Similes

Metaphors and similes can also be instrumental in conveying nervousness.

By comparing the emotion or associated bodily sensations to something else, you can evoke a particular feeling or image in the reader’s mind.

Example : You could write, “His nervousness was like a swarm of bees, buzzing uncontrollably in the pit of his stomach,” to imply a sense of chaotic energy and discomfort.

7) Utilize Dialogue and Tone

Dialogue can also be a potent tool for conveying nervousness.

The words a character chooses, their tone, or even the pauses and stutters in their speech can all reveal underlying anxiety.

Through dialogue, you can show a character’s struggle to articulate their thoughts, their tendency to ramble, or their use of filler words—all indicative of nervousness.

Example : Instead of writing, “Tina was nervous about the question,” you could show her hesitation in dialogue: “‘Well, you see, um, it’s a bit complicated, isn’t it?’ Tina’s voice wavered, each word tinged with a nervous lilt that betrayed her composure.”

8) Leverage Environmental Interaction

How a character interacts with their environment can be another window into their emotional state.

Someone who is nervous might fiddle with objects, look away into the distance, or keep glancing at the door.

These interactions serve as nonverbal cues to the reader, adding an extra layer of context to the emotional landscape of the story.

Example : Instead of saying, “Paul was nervous,” you could describe how he interacts with his surroundings: “Paul kept glancing at his watch, then at the door, his fingers drumming an impatient rhythm on the tabletop. Every creak of the floorboards made him start, his eyes darting towards the source of the sound.”

9) Use Sensory Descriptions

Incorporating sensory descriptions can deeply immerse your reader into the character’s emotional state.

Describe how nervousness feels, tastes, sounds, smells, or even looks from the character’s perspective.

Does their mouth go dry? Is there a pit in their stomach?

Sensory details add a tangible quality to emotions, making them feel real to the reader.

Example : Rather than saying, “Raj was anxious,” you could provide sensory details: “A sour taste filled Raj’s mouth, his tongue thick and clumsy as if coated in cotton. His skin tingled with the static of his nerves, every sound magnified to a grating roar.”

10) Incorporate Thought-Action Sequences

When nervous, people often go through a rapid series of thoughts and actions.

Incorporating these thought-action sequences can add a realistic dimension to your depiction of nervousness.

Describe what the character thinks and then immediately show how that thought translates into action or inaction.

Example : Instead of saying, “Lisa felt nervous,” you could write: “‘I can’t mess this up,’ Lisa thought. Almost robotically, she reached for her notes, skimmed through them one last time, and adjusted the microphone. Her hands quivered just enough to remind her of her fragility.”

11) Use Repetitive Actions or Tics

People often exhibit repetitive behaviors or tics when they are nervous.

This could be tapping a foot, scratching an itch that isn’t there, or even humming a tune unconsciously.

These actions can become a character’s signature way of displaying nervousness, aiding in building a more rounded, believable individual.

Example : Instead of saying, “Nina was nervous,” you might write: “Nina kept pulling at the hem of her dress, stretching the fabric until it snapped back into place. It was a nervous tic she had developed as a child and it resurfaced now, a telltale sign of her inner turmoil.”

12) Play with Syntax and Grammar

Unconventional sentence structure can sometimes effectively convey a character’s nervous state.

Fragmented sentences, run-ons, or even abrupt syntactical breaks can make the reader feel the disjointedness or racing thoughts that come with nervousness.

Example : Instead of saying, “Harry was nervous,” you could experiment with sentence structure: “Harry couldn’t sit still. Couldn’t breathe normally. Everything a jumble. Thoughts. Emotions. A cacophony. He was unraveling.”

13) Utilize Flashbacks or Imagery

Sometimes the source of a character’s nervousness is a past event or a vivid imagination projecting worst-case scenarios.

You can employ flashbacks or internal imagery to convey this deeper layer of emotion.

It provides context and depth, making the emotion multidimensional.

Example : Rather than writing, “Martha was nervous,” you could incorporate a flashback: “As Martha waited for her name to be called, a vivid memory flashed before her eyes—the last time she had stood on a similar stage, forgetting all her lines. Her stomach knotted at the thought.”

14) Exaggerate for Effect (Hyperbole)

Sometimes a little exaggeration can drive the point home effectively.

Hyperbole allows you to amplify a character’s emotional state for greater impact.

While you should use this sparingly, an exaggerated description at the right moment can offer an intense snapshot of a character’s feelings.

Example : Instead of simply saying, “Clara was nervous,” you could exaggerate: “Clara felt like her heart was about to burst through her chest and make a run for it, leaving her behind to face the crowd.”

15) Punctuate with Silence

The absence of sound or action can be as powerful as its presence.

Moments of silence, hesitation, or stillness can accentuate a character’s nervousness and build tension.

Readers naturally fill silence with their own anticipation, adding to the emotional depth of a scene.

Example : Instead of saying, “Jim felt nervous,” you could write: “Jim opened his mouth to speak, but words escaped him. An uncomfortable silence filled the room, every tick of the clock amplifying his growing sense of dread.”

16) Use Dialogue Tags and Modifiers

While it’s generally better to show emotion through action and dialogue, sometimes a well-placed tag or modifier can be effective.

Words like “stammered,” “muttered,” or “whispered” can add nuance to speech, indicating a character’s emotional state.

Example : Instead of saying, “Maria was nervous,” consider: “‘I, uh, think we should talk,’ Maria stammered, her voice barely rising above a whisper.”

17) Add Color to Breathing and Voice

Breathing patterns and voice modulation can reveal a lot about someone’s emotional state.

Short, shallow breaths or a tremulous voice can indicate nervousness.

Describe these to allow readers to ‘hear’ and ‘feel’ the character’s nervousness.

Example : Instead of just stating, “Lucas was nervous,” describe his breathing and voice: “Lucas drew a shallow, shaky breath, his words coming out in hesitant fragments: ‘I, um, don’t know how to, uh, say this.'”

18) Describe the Passing of Time

How a character perceives the passing of time can indicate their emotional state.

Time might drag painfully slow or rush by in a disorienting blur when one is nervous.

Use this to build atmosphere and provide insight into the character’s inner world.

Example : Instead of stating, “Kelly felt nervous,” write: “Every second that ticked by felt like an eternity to Kelly, each moment stretching out as she waited for her name to be announced.”

19) Break It with Humor

Sometimes, breaking the tension with a moment of humor can accentuate the nervousness that preceded it.

This can make characters more relatable and endearing to the reader, showcasing their coping mechanisms.

Example : Rather than saying, “Tom was nervous,” you could write: “Tom fumbled with his keys, dropping them twice before finally unlocking the door. ‘Well,’ he chuckled nervously, ‘who needs a security system when you have butterfingers like mine?'”

20) Employ Foreshadowing

You can use foreshadowing to build anticipation and make the character’s nervousness more pronounced.

Plant clues early in the narrative that something significant, and potentially nerve-wracking, will happen later.

Example : Instead of saying, “Sandy was anxious,” employ foreshadowing: “Sandy couldn’t shake off the ominous feeling as she read the anonymous letter again. ‘See you soon,’ it ended, and every time she read those words, her stomach churned with a nervous dread she couldn’t place.”

21) Bring it Full Circle (Callback)

Sometimes calling back to an earlier moment of nervousness can demonstrate growth or a lack thereof in a character.

This can add depth to your character and make the emotion feel earned.

Example : Instead of saying, “Amy was no longer nervous,” you could use a callback: “Amy looked at the stage, remembering how she’d frozen up last year. But this time, her feet were steady. She smiled, her nerves giving way to newfound confidence.”

22) Layered Emotions

Often, nervousness isn’t a standalone emotion; it comes layered with anticipation, excitement, or even dread.

Describing these mixed feelings can offer a more nuanced and relatable portrayal of nervousness.

Example : Instead of saying, “Dan was nervous,” you could layer emotions: “Dan felt a strange cocktail of emotions—nervousness peppered with a dash of excitement and a hint of dread. It was his first day at a new job, after all.”

23) Blend Multiple Techniques

The most compelling portrayals often use a blend of multiple techniques.

By combining different elements like inner monologue, dialogue, body language, and pacing, you can craft a rich, multi-layered portrayal of nervousness that resonates with readers.

Example : “Jane’s fingers tapped an erratic rhythm on her desk. ‘You’ve got this,’ she silently assured herself, her stomach churning like a washing machine on spin cycle. Her breaths came in quick, shallow gasps, failing to clear the fog of unease that clouded her thoughts.”

When describing nervousness, it’s good to first understand it:

30 Words to Describe Nervousness in Writing

When it comes to describing nervousness, the right vocabulary can make all the difference.

Selecting precise words can make your prose more vivid and transport your reader into the emotional landscape of your characters.

Here are 30 words you can use to describe nervousness:

  • Apprehensive

30 Phrases to Describe Nervousness in Writing

Sometimes a single word won’t suffice and a phrase can provide a more nuanced description of a character’s emotional state.

The following phrases can add complexity and detail when describing nervousness:

  • Heart pounding like a drum
  • A bundle of nerves
  • Sweating bullets
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Walking on eggshells
  • Twisting one’s hands
  • Gnawing at the insides
  • Mind racing a mile a minute
  • Pins and needles
  • Shaking like a leaf
  • Biting one’s nails
  • Stomach in knots
  • Breathing quick and shallow
  • Fumbling over words
  • Ears burning with embarrassment
  • Vein throbbing in the temple
  • Holding one’s breath
  • Suffering a nervous breakdown
  • Nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof
  • Feeling cornered
  • Jumping at shadows
  • Second-guessing oneself
  • Trembling from head to toe
  • Heart skipping a beat
  • Palms clammy with sweat
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Voice tinged with apprehension
  • Pulse racing uncontrollably
  • Lost in a fog of nervousness

3 Full Descriptions of Nervousness in Different Genres

Here are three full descriptions of how to describe nervousness in writing.

You’ll read about nervous characters in:

Science Fiction


John walked into the dimly lit room, its shadows casting eerie patterns on the walls.

His heart pounded in his chest as if a drumroll were announcing his entry. The smell of old books mixed with the musk of mildew, creating an ambiance of foreboding that gnawed at his insides.

He felt like he was walking on eggshells, each step a potential trigger for something he couldn’t quite articulate.

The room seemed to close in on him, and he found himself gripping the edge of the table, his knuckles turning white. His breaths were shallow, each inhalation a laborious task, as he felt the weight of eyes upon him—even though he was alone.

Emma looked across the candle-lit table, her eyes meeting Michael’s.

Her stomach was a swirl of butterflies, fluttering wildly as if trying to escape. Her hands felt clammy, and she discreetly wiped them on her napkin.

As he smiled, she found herself lost in a fog of nervousness, a tingling sensation crawling up her spine.

The thought of what might happen after dinner filled her with a heady mixture of excitement and dread.

Each time their eyes met, her heart skipped a beat, making her wonder if this was love or just a new level of emotional chaos she had yet to understand.

As Captain Williams stood before the interstellar council, his legs trembled beneath his space uniform, almost as if they were about to give way.

His heart felt like it was racing at warp speed, and he was acutely aware of the hundreds of extraterrestrial eyes focused on him.

Each species had its own way of scrutinizing, yet they all seemed to pierce right through him.

This is it, the first contact, don’t mess it up, he thought, his mind racing a mile a minute.

The gravity of the moment bore down on him, heavier than Jupiter’s pull, and he swallowed hard, trying to find his voice amid the lump of apprehension lodged in his throat.

Final Thoughts: How to Describe Nervousness in Writing

Nervousness is a critical element in tension and, therefore, every story.

If you’re looking for more guides on describing emotions and actions in writing, we have many great articles for on this site.

Related Posts:

  • How to Describe Fear in Writing (21 Best Tips + Examples)
  • How To Describe a Panic Attack in Writing (Ultimate Guide)
  • How to Describe a Brave Person in Writing (21 Tips + Examples)
  • How to Describe a Hug in Writing (21 Best Tips + Examples)

Table of Contents

creative writing to describe fear

How to write a letter to your fear

Fear — it’s an emotion that can initiate a range of bodily responses, from heightened awareness and intense concentration to sweaty palms, shallow breathing, and a rapid heartbeat, and even to violence, avoidance, or paralysis. Wherever you fall on that range, being stuck in fear isn’t pleasant.

But here’s the thing: Fear isn’t intrinsically bad. It’s a natural response that’s meant to help protect your life when you’re in danger. While fear isn’t your enemy, it also shouldn’t be the one in control, especially when you’re not in life-threatening situations.

We’re sharing a simple exercise meant to foster an opportunity to meet and explore your fears in a personal, no-pressure space — by writing them a letter. Use the letter-writing process to reframe your relationship with your fears, placing yourself in control, and relegating your fears to the position of tools that you can use or disregard as needed.

How to start

Start your letter “Dear Fear,” — look, it even rhymes! Just because we’re writing to our fear doesn’t mean the letter-writing process should be scary. On the contrary, this exercise should feel like a release. Yes, digging into our fears can be uncomfortable and challenging in the moment, but it’s hugely rewarding once completed.

Work through any discomfort by anticipating that release. Visualize how it will feel to face and then take a step beyond the pressures and anxieties you’ve held for so long.

How to write the letter

Your letter can take any shape you feel would be beneficial. It can be short or long, contain drawings or pictures, follow a structure or flow from one place to another without planning — you can even write a series of letters, if you’d like each fear to have its own communication. Don’t place restrictions on yourself! The entire point of writing the letter is to explore and define your fears, find their roots, determine how they’re influencing you, and discover potential methods to move beyond them. There is no wrong way to achieve this.

That being said, we’re highlighting a sample route you can take with your letter  to help you get started (feel free to deviate from this path at any time and make the letter work for you!):

1. Begin by naming your fear(s) at their most basic level.

What are they? For example, perhaps you’re afraid of going back to school as an adult.

2. Next, dig deeper into your fears, moving beyond the general.

What are they specifically ? But beware — don’t get to a point where you’re so fixated on a single idea or fear that you become paralyzed. The purpose of this step is to define what your fears are so that they cease from being formless, unclear, overwhelming thoughts and instead become words that you can respond to and address.

For instance, you might realize that what you’re afraid of with going back to school isn’t the entire process: It’s actually two particular fears around navigating online learning technology and feeling like you’ll be alone in your education.

3. From this, you may choose to determine where these fears are coming from.

What is their root? To continue our example, you could ascertain that both of these specific fears, technology and feeling alone, stem from a lack of self-trust.

4. Reflect on how your fears are influencing you.

Remember that fears become negative because they impede us from obtaining something we want, whether that’s an opportunity, a goal, an interaction, a feeling of happiness or security, or something else entirely. How are your fears influencing you? Name what the fears are holding you back from, and what you could achieve by taking control of them.

In our sample situation, these fears may be stopping you from returning to school. By commanding them, you’d accomplish your goal of earning your degree and would have greater opportunity to advance your career.

How to say goodbye

Your fear is a part of you. You know your fear, and you’ll know it even better after communicating with it in the letter. You know the weight of it, the validity, and whether it’s worthwhile. You also know what it’s doing to you, how fear affects you in your day-to-day life.

Let that knowledge aid you in deciding which path to take with your fear. Does it need to be soothed or reassured? Does it need to be addressed? Or does it need to be let go? Keep in mind, you have different fears, and each fear may require a different response (or a combination of responses).

Now for the most important part of the letter: Once you’ve determined what you need to do in regards to your fear, state it. There is an immense power in words, especially words rooted in intentions. Tell your fears your exact plan to achieve your goals, what your relationship to them will be moving forward, when you’ll need them and when you won’t — and get detailed. Every detail you add helps you think more deeply about what you want, how you’ll get it, and how you’ll move beyond your fears. Every detail makes your desired future feel more real, which will help you make it real.

Putting your plans to pen and paper gives them life and forces you to flush out the specifics. They’re no longer vague notions in your head; they’re something your eyes can see and your fingers can touch, and therefore more real than the old fears floating around your mind.

At the end of the letter, make sure to sign your name. Take credit for the work you’ve done to face, get to know, and rise above your fears.

Like this post? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiring stories and helpful tips. If you’re interested in sharing your own story,   fill out this form to tell us about your education journey .

creative writing to describe fear

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

creative writing to describe fear

November 6, 2018

A great way to avoid feeling overwhelmed is to find a study buddy who can share in this experience with you.

November 7, 2018

Chandra recently turned her associate degree into a bachelor’s degree, all without any student debt.

creative writing to describe fear

January 27, 2022

Love them or hate them, planners are an extremely effective time management tool.

  • How to describe fear in writing?

I am sharing with you, some tips for describing fear in creative writing;

  • Hearing causing fear
  • Listening voices of others full of fear
  • Sceneries causing fear
  • Sceneries showing fear
  • Taste of fear
  • Adrenaline-like chemicals may be released in the body during times of fear and could potentially produce an odor
  • a character who is more anxious might show fear more openly.
  • a character who is typically brave might try to hide their fear
  • Using the dialogue: Describe the dialogue and it can help make a scary scene come to life and show the reader how the character is feeling.
  • Showing is better than telling: Instead of telling the reader that a character is scared, describe the physical signs of fear, such as a racing heart, trembling hands, or widened pupils.

Examples of describing fear in writing

  • “Her pulse raced as she struggled to control her quivering palms, her eyes wide with panic.”
  • “He stood still, his pupils dilated and his respiration shallow, trying to settle himself.”
  • “Her knuckles became white as she grasped the table edge to calm her rushing heart.”
  • “A cold, tight knot formed in his gut as he recognized the risk.”
  • She couldn’t breathe because her dread felt like a vice hold on her chest.
  • “He ran with leaden legs, immobilised by terror.”
  • “She panicked and felt suffocated.”
  • “He was trembling, his dread clouding his thinking.”
  • “She closed her eyes to filter out the anxiety threatening to overtake her.”
  • He felt nauseous from terror.
  • “Her hands were trembling so badly she couldn’t grasp onto anything, her terror making it impossible to focus.”
  • “He felt like his heart was about to explode out of his chest, his terror making it impossible to breathe.”
  • “Her worry caused a chilly perspiration on her forehead.”
  • “His gut churned with anxiety.”
  • “She was shivering, afraid she might break.”
  • “He felt nauseous, his anxiety making it impossible to think properly.” “She felt a flood of worry rush over her, her fear making her feel imprisoned.”
  • “He ran with jelly legs, immobilised with terror.”
  • “Fear suffocated her, making it impossible to breathe.”
  • His worry made it hard to be calm.

More Examples of Creative Writing

  • How to describe a situation in writing
  • How to describe crying in writing?
  • How to describe fighting in writing?
  • How to describe clothing in writing?
  • How to describe death in writing?
  • How to describe depression in writing?
  • How to describe eyes in writing?
  • How to describe “falling in love” in writing?
  • How to describe voice in writing?
  • How to Describes Eyes in Writing?

100+ Examples of describing in Creative Writing

Related posts:.

  • Speech on Overcoming Fear [1,2,3,4,5 Minutes]

Editor’s Note: In this interview on writing anxiety, instructor Giulietta Nardone describes what creative writing anxiety is, what causes it, and—most importantly—how to get over writing anxiety.

What is writing anxiety?

There are many people who would like to start writing, or to take a writing class, but they never get started because the critical voice that lives in their head—which we all have—tells them they’re not good enough to write, that no one wants to hear what they want to say. So they don’t bother.

People with writing anxiety might even get physical symptoms if they try to write, or to over-edit: perspiring, trembling, shortness of breath, pacing, and so on.

What is the opposite of writing anxiety?

I would say enthusiasm, excitement, exploration: knowing you want to dive in, and feeling free about that. A good feeling.

What causes writing anxiety?

I believe these things start when we’re quite young, and I would trace it to in our educational system, where things are right or wrong. I once taught a tween, and we did a creative writing exercise. After it was done, she wanted to know if she had the right answer.

That’s kind of the opposite thing from what you need to be a writer. You need to explore, and you don’t know what the right answer is when you start, because the right answer is the right answer for you .

I believe these things start when we’re quite young, and I would trace it to in our educational system, where things are right or wrong. That’s kind of the opposite from what you need to be a writer.

Creative writing is about exploring: going through the different layers of your life, of your memory, coming up with something that you want said. And if you’re suffering from perfectionism, which is very common, it can be difficult. I’ve worked with people who would never finish a project, because they had to be perfect. Most of my stories, even the ones I’ve had published, I don’t think were perfect.

I think too, people are afraid to fail, what they label as failure. There isn’t really such thing—again, it’s just about exploration. It’s getting things off your chest, learning about yourself. Sometimes people heal through writing. There are so many reasons to start writing. You’ve got to give yourself permission to start.

What experiences have you had with writing anxiety in your own writing?

For myself, an example is not writing but public speaking. When I was in college, I kept changing majors, because I was terrified to give a presentation. If I’d walk into a class and if giving a presentation was on the syllabus, I’d leave.

I knew I had to get over it by taking a speech class.

I was terrified. It took me a while to sign up for it—“I don’t want to do this.” Then I did sign up for it. The thing I feared in my life ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. I keep saying, “What would have happened if I didn’t sign up?” Many years later, I wrote an essay about taking the class, and sold it to the college where I took the class. I got a lot of good feedback from people with similar fears.

There’s a continuum of fear when it comes to writing. Maybe you start, and then there’s a fear to finish, or a fear to send it out.

I work privately with writers, and a lot of writers are afraid to finish their stories and then send them out. There’s a continuum of fear when it comes to writing. Maybe you start, and then there’s a fear to finish, or a fear to send it out.

On that topic: my first essay in the Boston Globe  was something I wanted for a long time. They accepted my essay, I went and got the Sunday paper, opened and read it, and thought, “This is horrible. No one can read this.” It was way too personal. I wanted to drive around and grab every Globe and shred it. Then one of my friends caught me and said, “I saw your essay. It was great.” So writing anxiety happens with writers who are getting published too.

How do you recommend writers work with writing anxiety?

Write. It may sound contrarian, but you have to do the thing you’re afraid of.

Write. You have to do the thing you’re afraid of. You’ve got to start—that’s the tough part.

That’s always hard for me. I was afraid to hike into a canyon, so I went to Bryce Canyon with my husband and I took little baby steps the whole way down. I made it down and it was really beautiful, and I was glad I did it. I think I could do the Grand Canyon.

So just write. Hopefully take a class, with some guidance. You’ve got to start. The tough part is to start.

What can you tell us about your new course, Overcome Writing Anxiety: Boost Your Storytelling Confidence in Four Short Weeks! ?

This is a supportive, gentle program to get folks writing. They want to learn to trust each other, and most importantly trust themselves. We’re going to start short, with poetry, and then go a little longer with some flash fiction, and then creative nonfiction, maybe a short memoir. But we’re not going to write these long missives, so that no one gets frightened or overwhelmed.

We’ll be building up people’s courage every week. It’ll be fun and functional. I put it together influenced a little bit by a talk by Dr. Seuss. I love Dr. Seuss’s books, so I set it up with a Dr. Seuss lilt. I wanted it to be fun like Dr. Seuss. He was also very brave with his writing and his illustrations.

Overcome Writing Anxiety: Boost Your Storytelling Confidence in Four Short Weeks!

I see it as an inspirational program where you can build up your writing courage, and leave with some stories you may want to share with your family and friends. People will leave much more brave. And this is writing, but you can apply what you learned to other things: painting or singing or dance, whatever. I make myself do that all the time, and I’m always glad I do: I’ve done some great things just jumping right in.

I would like people who are feeling reluctant about writing to take a chance and join us. In my experience, it’s the risks we don’t take that can make us feel incomplete. It’s about getting comfortable taking risks, so you can do a lot of the things in life that you want to do, but you’re kind of keeping yourself from doing.

Looking for more practical guidance on tackling writing anxiety? See instructor Dennis Foley ‘s advice on the topic .

' src=

Frederick Meyer

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

We use cookies to enhance our website for you. Proceed if you agree to this policy or learn more about it.

  • Essay Database >
  • Essays Samples >
  • Essay Types >
  • Creative Writing Example

Fear Creative Writings Samples For Students

41 samples of this type

No matter how high you rate your writing abilities, it's always a good idea to check out a competently written Creative Writing example, especially when you're dealing with a sophisticated Fear topic. This is exactly the case when directory of sample Creative Writings on Fear will prove handy. Whether you need to come up with an original and meaningful Fear Creative Writing topic or examine the paper's structure or formatting peculiarities, our samples will provide you with the necessary material.

Another activity area of our write my paper agency is providing practical writing assistance to students working on Fear Creative Writings. Research help, editing, proofreading, formatting, plagiarism check, or even crafting fully original model Fear papers upon your demand – we can do that all! Place an order and buy a research paper now.

Example Of Big Fish Creative Writing

Example of creative writing on collectivism: the workers powerful weapon.

[Author][Professor][Subject][Date of Submission]

Good Creative Writing On Friedman Ch12-15

Don't waste your time searching for a sample.

Get your creative writing done by professional writers!

Just from $10/page

Structure And Symbolism In "The Things They Carried" Creative Writing Sample

Good example of the tell-tales ghost creative writing, the tell-tales ghost: commentary and evaluation, good example of creative writing on escape, creative writing on kelly’s personal constructs, therapeutic metaphor creative writing examples, esl nursing students creative writing examples, introduction, dean and close encounters of the third kind creative writing, free it sets you free, harper repeated and glanced at the door closing behind joe creative writing sample, creative writing on imperialism and its effects to humanity, the little people creative writing template for faster writing.

The Eloi in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine

Human Trafficking {type) To Use As A Writing Model

Definition of human trafficking.

There are many definitions of human trafficking; one of the best ones is given by the Department of Homeland Services: “Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain” (DHS, 2015).

Why is Human Trafficking a Problem??

Example of creative writing on poor leadership – personal experience, contemporary leadership, free creative writing about rosalie, dear natalie,, creative writing on black thursday.

In the late 1920s, the U.S. economy was strong. Many companies were growing and earning money. People bought shares of the companies, called stock. The stocks were traded and bought in the Stock Market. On October 24, 1929, stock values dropped or became worthless rapidly. This started the most severe economic depression in U.S. history—the Great Depression. Today, that day is still remembered as Black Thursday.

Free Mechanisms Of Defense Creative Writing Sample

Organization of work with case study.

I chose case study as a qualitative method that can be applied to analyze characters of movie “Running with scissors”. The purpose of this case study - defining different mechanisms of psychological defense used by various characters in the film and better understanding of Freud`s theory of psychological defense`s mechanism. Students will need to answer following questions for this work: 1) What mechanism of psychological defense did you notice in the behavior of characters of “Running with Scissors.”? 2) How do you think what are purposes of using defense mechanisms by different character?

Brief summarizing of mechanisms of defense`s characteristics

Communicating emotions creative writing.

Bryce: After a year of applying, interviewing, jumping through all the hoops, I finally realized nothing I did mattered. I just couldn’t take another rejection. The bottom line is, no one wants me.

Bryce: I guess I’m not feeling much of anything.

Poems creative writings examples, cognitive behavioural therapy creative writing examples.

In recent debate, there have been questions raised as to whether the juvenile justice system is too lenient, allowing juvenile offenders to repeat grave criminal offenses and get away with them, citing little to no parental guidance. Some individuals, and institutions alike, have been advocating for the instituting of dramatic measures such as the revocation of parental rights, removal of children from the home, and even forced sterilization of parents convicted of felony abuse or neglect. However, I do not believe such measures would work to mitigate and/or eradicate cases of juvenile delinquency.

Theater Dramatic Plays Creative Writing Examples

1) Discuss some of the mythic and ritual elements, and the logical, rhetorical, and ethical aspects of Oedipus the King. Think about how Oedipus proposes to purge the city of the murder-pollution, the key arguments between Oedipus, Tiresius, and Creon, and the arguments Oedipus made to himself and acted upon to defeat the prophecy, the rhetorical device of irony that permeates the play, and the ethics of everyone's actions, the family members and others involved in the tragedy.

A Short Story About A Dog And A Cat Creative Writing Examples

Being italian act i movie outline creative writing sample, good creative writing about the foreign policy of the obama administration in syria, immigration policy during this quarter, holly bible ecclesiastes reading response creative writings example, other creative writing example, storymaking creative writing, organizational conflict creative writing, creative writing on comparative analysis of trouble with the machine by christopher kennedy, free curiosity paper creative writing example, free violence against women creative writing sample, creative writing on bisexuality, supporting family values by linda chavez creative writing examples, the united states criminal justice system 20 years from now creative writing examples.

___ March 2013

Example Of Creative Writing On Interpersonal Communication

What is interpersonal communication? This is the way in which people from various background shows their emotions and communicates using both the non-verbal and verbal. The concepts of interpersonal communication include the self, perception of others and people’s emotions. The main function of the concepts of interpersonal communication is to educate individuals on the reasons why people behave in certain ways and why their bond is broken or success.

The self in interpersonal communication

Market structure unit 2 individual project creative writing examples.

OPEC is an international cartel aimed at securing interests of the oil producing countries by restricting the oil production levels. The market structure of a cartel is similar to an oligopoly, the only difference being collusion between the dominant players. The paper attempts to understand these market structures, their welfare benefits and how the firms respond in certain situations. Game theory explains the incentive for firms to cheat in a cartel. The future strategy for OPEC is suggested based on synthesis of these concepts. It includes maintaining an active dialogue, designing a detailed disincentive plan and innovation.

Example Of Resisting Audience In Relation To The Movie Creative Writing

Wolfs story creative writing sample, free creative writing on free writing.

1. "Politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant."

War Photography Creative Writing

Password recovery email has been sent to [email protected]

Use your new password to log in

You are not register!

By clicking Register, you agree to our Terms of Service and that you have read our Privacy Policy .

Now you can download documents directly to your device!

Check your email! An email with your password has already been sent to you! Now you can download documents directly to your device.

or Use the QR code to Save this Paper to Your Phone

The sample is NOT original!

Short on a deadline?

Don't waste time. Get help with 11% off using code - GETWOWED

No, thanks! I'm fine with missing my deadline

  • Culture & Lifestyle

creative writing to describe fear

  • Madhesh Province
  • Lumbini Province
  • Bagmati Province
  • National Security
  • Koshi Province
  • Gandaki Province
  • Karnali Province
  • Sudurpaschim Province
  • International Sports
  • Brunch with the Post
  • Life & Style
  • Entertainment
  • Investigations
  • Climate & Environment
  • Science & Technology
  • Visual Stories
  • Crosswords & Sudoku
  • Corrections
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Today's ePaper

Without Fear or Favour UNWIND IN STYLE

creative writing to describe fear

What's News :

  • Nepal's hydropower potential
  • Classes run in the open in quake-hit Salyan
  • Health Ministry seeks aid
  • National Assembly elections

Mainstream literature should feature characters from diverse backgrounds

Mainstream literature should feature characters from diverse backgrounds

Anweiti Upadhyay

Krishna Raj Sarbahari is an influential figure in Tharu literature and children’s stories. With over 30 published books, most of his works focus on the Tharu community. His writings span various genres, including novels, children’s stories, short stories, poems, comedies and travelogues. Additionally, Sarbahari is the chairperson of the Tharu Writers’ Association and holds a PhD in Tharu folk literature from Nepal Sanskrit University. Alongside his literary contributions, he has an extensive background in journalism.

In this interview with the Post’s Anweiti Upadhyay , Sarbahari discusses how he writes children’s stories, his early literary influences and the intersection of journalism and creative writing.

When did you start reading?

I remember reciting a poem I’d written in my school when I was in grade four. My school sent it for publication in ‘Balak’, one of the oldest Nepali children’s magazines , and that was the first thing I ever read outside of school textbooks. Over time, my interest in reading grew. In the following year, influenced by my father, I picked up the Nepali ‘Ramayan’ and then moved on to reading other stories, including ones about Haatim Tai and Akbar-Birbal.

In grade six, I came across a piece of literature that was based on Tharu culture and written by a Tharu individual for the first time. Titled ‘Magar’ by Mahesh Chaudhary , this collection of songs from Tharu marriage ceremonies was eye-opening for me. Before this, I didn’t know it was possible to publish literature in the Tharu language, too. It inspired me to collect and publish stories from my community. Determined, I began working on this collection and had a draft ready by seventh grade. However, I only managed to publish it during my master’s.

Volunteering at a library some years later deepened my passion for reading. By the time I entered Plus Two, I was constantly requesting new books for our college library. Contributing to the college magazine fueled my desire to write, and I began reading even more.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading ‘Budhan’ by Manan Dhakal, which explores the experiences of Tharu individuals adjusting to life in a new place. Another recent read is ‘Shunyako Mulya’ by Nawaraj KC. As I’m working on a gender studies journal, my current reading includes relevant academic papers.

What are some books or writers that have influenced your writing style?

The book that significantly shaped my writing style is ‘Alikhit’ by Dhruba Chandra Gautam. I’ve revisited this multiple times, and it is still just as enjoyable.

Around two decades ago, I, along with other writers, received a fellowship from Martin Chautari. During the one-and-a-half months spent at a hotel in Dhulikhel, I aimed to write a story reflecting the culture and lifestyle of the western Tarai inhabitants, inspired by Gautam’s approach to covering the eastern Tarai lifestyle in ‘Alikhit’. However, feeling my initial draft closely resembled Gautam’s work, I decided to rework the story.

How has your experience as a journalist and researcher influenced your approach to creative writing? Are there connections between journalism and storytelling for you?

At times, the insights gained during my research projects assist me in shaping the plots and other elements of my stories. The individuals I encounter through my journalistic and research endeavours are a significant source of inspiration for my writing. Additionally, the places I visit inspire my stories. I believe writers benefit from extensive travel and meeting diverse people to generate fresh ideas and gain a deeper understanding of various concepts they can explore in their writing.

I’ve noticed that working as a journalist has gradually affected my creativity. The language employed in journalism differs considerably from that of literary writing. Presently, I find myself using journalistic language in my literary pieces, and this shift has left me dissatisfied with my writing. Consequently, I am contemplating a gradual transition away from journalism to focus more on my writing.

Children's stories can serve as both entertainment and a means of teaching important life lessons. How do you manage to blend these elements effectively, ensuring that your stories are both enjoyable and educational?

Raising my daughters has rekindled my awareness of children’s curiosity and imagination. When I travel, I try to engage with local children and converse with older individuals who share their regional folk tales. This is how I collect stories. During these interactions, children sometimes mention the disparity between the stories they hear at home and those taught in school. These conversations remind me of the importance of inclusivity and the need for our educational curriculum and mainstream media to feature stories from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities that foster a sense of visibility for everyone and avoid any feelings of being ‘othered’.

What factors do you consider when writing stories for children?

Relatability is a big thing when writing stories for children. I explore topics that resonate with children, such as experiences like hunger or the simple joy of wandering in the garden while chasing a butterfly.

Some of your children’s stories have been adapted into picture books. Collaborating with illustrators, editors and publishers can influence the authenticity of cultural representation. How do you ensure that every aspect of your books maintains the integrity of Tharu culture and stories?

I believe a picture can convey a story as effectively as a thousand words. Images add another dimension to the narrative and pique the interest of more people, especially children, in a book. Hence, I have enjoyed collaborating with organisations like Room to Read, Srijanalaya and The Asia Foundation to turn my stories into picture books.

The creating picture books is a highly collaborative process. Illustrators typically engage in detailed discussions with us before starting their drawings. We review the illustrations multiple times, and once everyone is satisfied, we publish the final version.

Given that my stories often have elements intrinsic to Tharu culture, which may be unfamiliar to the illustrators, I discuss everything with them thoroughly.

There was an instance where I wasn’t shown the final version of a book before publication, resulting in a significant error. The publishers corrected it in the second edition of the book, but such oversights could have been avoided with a careful check before the initial publication.

Krishna Raj Sarbahari’s book recommendations

creative writing to describe fear

Author: Valmiki

I like how the ‘Ramayan’ feels like an ongoing series of stories happening concurrently. Despite numerous sub-plots, it is presented in chronological order, making it easy to follow. Additionally, it has great moral lessons.

creative writing to describe fear

Author: Dhruba Chandra Gautam

Publisher: Sajha Prakashan

Gautam aptly describes how landlords in the panchayat era exploited and made life difficult for the villagers. I also appreciate his accurate portrayal of the lifestyle of people in the Bara-Parsa region.

creative writing to describe fear

Author: Mahesh Bikram Shah

Publisher: Anurag

Shah has published several anthologies; my favourite is his first story collection named ‘Sataha’. The book has many stories of the Tharu community, including ‘Champi’, ‘Tishna’ and the titular ‘Sataha’.

Ghumne Mechmathi Andho Manchhe

creative writing to describe fear

Author: Bhupi Sherchan

I really enjoy reading ‘Ghumne Mechmathi Andho Manchhe’. Despite being penned half a century ago, the book’s themes remain highly relevant today. Sherchan’s poems have a lasting literary brilliance that few poets can match.

creative writing to describe fear

Author: Nayan Raj Pandey

Publisher: Tanneri Prakshan

This is a tale of marginalised characters affected by political imbalance and instability in the 1990s. ‘Ular’ refers to the state when a horse-cart is unbalanced, and balance is a central theme of the story.

Anweiti Upadhyay Anweiti Upadhyay is the Culture and Lifestyle editor at The Post. Before joining The Post, she was a features reporter at Republica.

Related News

creative writing to describe fear

Former foreign minister Thapa unveils memoir

creative writing to describe fear

Eight decades of journey in one book

creative writing to describe fear

Home and the world

creative writing to describe fear

Handy guide to post-2006 Nepal

creative writing to describe fear

Weaving words and making melodies

Most read from books.

creative writing to describe fear

Editor's Picks

creative writing to describe fear

Why Nepal keeps adding—and abandoning—airports

creative writing to describe fear

Antimicrobial resistance in Nepal reaching alarming levels, say experts

creative writing to describe fear

Translocated rhinos thriving in their adopted home

creative writing to describe fear

The cost of banning TikTok

creative writing to describe fear

Nepali coffee prices rise on heels of increasing imports

E-paper | november 24, 2023.

creative writing to describe fear

  • Read ePaper Online

How to Do the Write Thing

Get Paid to Write through the Power of Storytelling and Make Money Online to Work from Home

5 Powerful Words that Express Fear + Writing Prompts

5 Powerful Words that Express Fear + Writing Prompts

Terror was around every corner of the dark woods. The only way out was through.

“Oh my goodness! What are you doing here?”

“Nothing, I just came down to get food.”

“You gave me such a fright.”

The only horror he could think of was what would ensue if he failed.

4. Trepidation

“Your trepidation is amusing and well-paced. You do have much to fear here!”

Just one look at the creature would fill anyone with dread. Anyone who saw it died within minutes, except for her. Somehow she survived, and they were still trying to figure out how.

Interested in starting a blog of your own? Check out Bluehost.

If you enjoy 5 Powerful Words that Express Fear + Writing Prompts, Storytelling and writing in general, you might love owning a domain of your own where you can write about it? Ever want to own your own domain name (

Bluehost hosts your blog so that you can own your domain and make money blogging. Check them out only if you’re interested in making money blogging; otherwise, go for a free blog instead 🙂

Already own a blog? Monetize with Ezoic. Make 5X more on ads with Ezoic! See for yourself. – These ads use machine learning. Set it and leave it.

Try Grammarly, The Free tool that should be in every writer’s toolbelt.

Try it for free now.

Check this out.

Is Writing your craft? You might love this. Check out the 4,900+ reviews it has on Amazon to see if this might be what you’re looking for.

Did you enjoy 5 Powerful Words that Express Fear + Writing Prompts? Consider sharing this social-friendly image.

5 Powerful Words that Express Fear + Writing Prompts

Be a smart writer and take advantage of every word.

Write powerful words when appropriate to trigger an emotional response from your reader.

You can write powerful words instead of dull words to incite a desirous psychological reaction in your reader while you have their attention.

Write power words to give your reader specific feelings about characters and events.

Use the powerful word in a natural way that comes across organic and smoothly. Do not force it. Just let it flow.

Power words are good for pivotal dialogue moments. They are good to consider for fiction as well as non-fiction.

Use power words to take your reader’s attention.

Draw their eyes and attention to where you want it the most.

Wake the reader up from zoning out while they are reading your piece.

Use power words strategically to get them from idea to idea.

Use simple power words that are easy to understand but that pack a punch compared to other boring words.

Write powerful words to keep your sentences interesting to your reader.

Don’t lose them by not drawing their attention back from losing focus.

When doing freelance writing projects use power words to write better-converting headlines and subject lines.

In blogging use power words in the titles and subheadings.

In emails use them in headlines and subject lines.

Don’t overdo it. Don’t try to force many into any one sentence unless it calls for it.

Hopefully, this fast short post helps you think through some of your own writing and where you can incorporate simple power words in a meaningful, natural, and effective way.

Hope this helps!

Happy writing!

Make sure your posts are readable.  Use this readability score check

Want to check out a writer’s community to test your writing and get feedback?

Check out these FREE trial resources from Amazon for when you work from home (or are stuck at home 🙂 )

Free Prime Membership Trial:

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

Try Prime Discounted (Free Trial)

Make your Free Amazon Wedding Registry:

Create an Amazon Wedding Registry

Get Free Video Channels Trial with Prime: 

Join Prime Video Channels Free Trial

Try Free Amazon Family Trial:

Join Amazon Family (30 day Free Trial)

Get Unlimited Music for Free (30 day free trial):

Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial

Free movies and TV shows trial:

Join Amazon Prime – Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime – Start Free Trial Now

Free Prime for students trial:

Prime Student 6-month Trial

Free Baby Registry:

Shop Amazon – Create an Amazon Baby Registry

Free trial of Twitch Prime:

Try Twitch Prime

And for when you REALLY work at home:

Create Amazon Business Account

It is the Amazon you love, for work. Make workplace procurement easier with convenient delivery options, simplified purchasing workflows, multiple payment options, and a competitive marketplace with business-only pricing and quantity discounts. Anyone who makes purchases for work (eg. procurement specialists, office administration, IT departments, etc.) can create a FREE account for their business. Customer must be from a verified business in order to successfully create their Amazon Business account.

What Are Your Writing Insecurities?

What Are Your Writing Insecurities? You write for yourself of course, but there is a small part of you that Read more

Are You Having Trouble Creating Your Fictional Town?

Are You Having Trouble Creating Your Fictional Town? If you are like many other creative writers fictional towns are a Read more

7 Tips How to Create a Healthy Reading Habit

7 Tips How to Create a Healthy Reading Habit Let’s be honest, the easiest way to start any habit is Read more

5 Oppressive Settings for World Building. writing prompts. writing tips. writing inspiration.

5 Oppressive Settings for World Building 1. Violent Religions Violent religions come and go with time, but some stick around Read more


Published by Jeremy

View all posts by Jeremy

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)


  • More Networks


  1. 32 Ways To Write About Fear

    creative writing to describe fear

  2. 5 Words to Describe Fear in English

    creative writing to describe fear

  3. How to evoke fear in your writing

    creative writing to describe fear

  4. Fear Essay

    creative writing to describe fear

  5. 12 Writing Prompts about Fear

    creative writing to describe fear

  6. Master List of Ways to Describe Fear

    creative writing to describe fear


  1. ✍️Writing 😎writing advice 🔥creative writing 😴writing tips

  2. Creative Writing Learner Wins 2023 Governor General Literary Award

  3. How to do a picture writing

  4. Creative writing||4rth lesson creative writing||drawing|| daily Vlog|| Fara Sehar Vlog1

  5. Did You know... #shorts #facts

  6. Creative Writing


  1. Master List of Ways to Describe Fear

    It's a lot of phrases describing fear, including physical reactions, physical sensations, facial expressions, and other words you can use in your novel or in other creative writing. I've included some that can work for uneasiness or anxiety, but most of these are for real terror.

  2. How to Describe Fear in Writing (21 Best Tips + Examples)

    Describe fear in writing by understanding the type of fear, its intensity, and expressing it through body language, speech patterns, thoughts, feelings, setting, pace, and sensory description. Use metaphors, symbols, contrast, relatable fears, and personal experiences for a vivid portrayal.

  3. How to Describe Fear in Writing

    By: Paul Jenkins July 4, 2022 Writing, Creativity, Filmmaking, Storytelling How to describe fear in writing? It's a fair question because fear is one of the most complex and powerful emotions we experience. Fear can be paralyzing, but it can also give us the strength to overcome great challenges.

  4. Fearful Whispers: Crafting Descriptions of Fear in Creative Writing

    Crafting descriptions of fear is an art that takes both finesse and creativity, allowing writers to summon emotions that stimulate the senses and send our imaginations into overdrive.

  5. Describing Fear

    Psalm 34:4 Fear is a re-occurring emotion in fiction especially in thrillers. Use the following examples to accurately describe the level of fear your character is experiencing. A stab of fear A prick of fear These thoughts are like needles jabbing at my skin Fear/ sweat prickles over my skin All of my anxieties come tumbling back

  6. Unveiling Emotions: Describe Fear in Creative Writing

    1. Existential Fear: This type of fear revolves around the big questions of life, death, and purpose. It encompasses the fear of mortality and the unknown, leading characters to question the meaning of their existence.

  7. 32 Ways To Write About Fear

    When we write about fearful characters, we should remember to write about them in a realistic way. Here are 32 things to consider when you write about fear: A) Physical Reactions When we are afraid, we have these reactions: An accelerated breathing rate An accelerated heart rate Increased muscle tension Goose bumps Sweating Increased blood glucose

  8. Master List of Actions That Show Fear

    Flee? Prepare to fight? Attack? Pretend the whole thing isn't even happening? Here's my list of "show don't tell" examples for fear-based actions. Some of these are very small, and some are life-changing. I'm not making any distinction here between rational and irrational fears or actions.

  9. How To Describe Fear In Writing (13 Steps You Need To Know)

    How To Describe Fear In Writing Understand Fear: Choose the Right Point of View: Set the Scene: Character Reactions: Internal Monologue: Sensory Details: Metaphors and Similes: Dialogue: Foreshadowing: Show, Don't Tell: Pacing: Resolution: Editing and Feedback: Understanding Fear The physiological and psychological aspects of fear

  10. Writing Fear that Will Give You the Shivers

    Horror • Suspense Writing Fear that Will Give You the Shivers May 9, 2017 Add Comment 5 min read Written by Alex J Coyne When you write about fear, you want your readers to experience anything from a tingle between their shoulder blades to blood-curdling horror. Writing effective fear is a good trick to master.

  11. What are ways to describe feelings of fear?

    2. What are some ways to write feelings of fear, such as: losing a loved one, almost dying, getting lost, getting yelled at by your overprotective mother and. almost losing someone close to you. I have this idea in my mind of writing a character almost dying in a fire, but he only got burned. The doctor character has to amputate his arm and ...

  12. Writing About Fears and Phobias

    Writing about "Fight or Flight". "Fight or flight" is a phrase used to describe the physiological response a person experiences as a result of being afraid. Fight or flight, also known as "acute stress response," causes the release of adrenaline and several other changes that allow a person to react quickly to a threat.

  13. Writing Fear: How To Describe Fear In Writing

    Writers often complain on the right words to use in order to describe fear in Creative writing, pain, guilt, emotions and so on. As said earlier, despite it's peculiarity, there's a magic around it. One might argue that pictorial representation of fear is better than using words to describe fear in writing. This is not actually true.

  14. Fear

    fear - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing Search entire site for fear When the chance to connect comes, when I see my holy grail, the monster appears to tell me that pain is ahead. Thus the chasm I see is the mirage fear creates, my future is a step beyond, one stride.

  15. Writing Fear: How To Scare Your Readers

    5. Mess with our brains. Drop your character into a world that seems to be one thing but is actually something else. You'll keep your character guessing (as well as your readers), and as you gradually let on that reality is not "real," the fear level will begin to climb.

  16. How to Describe Nervousness in Writing (23 Tips + Examples)

    Here is how to describe nervousness in writing: Describe nervousness in writing by using vivid language and sensory details. Show physical symptoms like shaking hands or quick breathing. Use dialogue tags such as "stammered," internal dialogue, and pacing to build tension. Use words like "jittery" or "heart pounding" to deepen ...

  17. Scared, frightened, afraid and terrified: talking about fear

    Scared, frightened, afraid and terrified are probably the most common adjectives to describe feeling fear, but if you want to broaden your vocabulary, there are many other useful alternatives. Petrified is a very strong word, and also has the corresponding word petrifying: Jumping out of the plane was petrifying. / I was absolutely petrified.

  18. How to write a letter to your fear

    1. Begin by naming your fear (s) at their most basic level. What are they? For example, perhaps you're afraid of going back to school as an adult. 2. Next, dig deeper into your fears, moving beyond the general. What are they specifically? But beware — don't get to a point where you're so fixated on a single idea or fear that you become paralyzed.

  19. How to describe fear in writing?

    How to describe fear in writing? I am sharing with you, some tips for describing fear in creative writing; Use sensory details: Describe the sensory details, Hearing Hearing causing fear Listening voices of others full of fear Sight Sceneries causing fear Sceneries showing fear Taste Taste of fear Smell

  20. Creative Writing Anxiety: What It Is and How to Overcome It

    He was also very brave with his writing and his illustrations. Overcome Writing Anxiety: Boost Your Storytelling Confidence in Four Short Weeks! I see it as an inspirational program where you can build up your writing courage, and leave with some stories you may want to share with your family and friends. People will leave much more brave.

  21. Fear Creative Writing Examples That Really Inspire

    Fear Creative Writings Samples For Students 41 samples of this type No matter how high you rate your writing abilities, it's always a good idea to check out a competently written Creative Writing example, especially when you're dealing with a sophisticated Fear topic.

  22. Mainstream literature should feature characters from diverse backgrounds

    Krishna Raj Sarbahari is an influential figures in Tharu literature and children's stories. With over 30 published books, most of his works focus on the Tharu community. His writings span various genres, including novels, children's stories, short stories, poems, comedies and travelogues. Additionally, Sarbahari is the chairperson of the ...

  23. 5 Powerful Words that Express Fear + Writing Prompts

    4. Trepidation. "Your trepidation is amusing and well-paced. You do have much to fear here!". 5. Dread. Just one look at the creature would fill anyone with dread. Anyone who saw it died within minutes, except for her. Somehow she survived, and they were still trying to figure out how.