Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.
Let’s think about a word today: DREAD.
It’s a verb that means to anticipate with great apprehension or fear. It can also be a noun that refers to the actual apprehension or fear itself.
A dread is something you know you have to do, but–please, God–you don’t want to. You really don’t want to. When I think about dread, I think about that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The way it can make it hard to take a good breath. I think about the blood leaving my limbs, leaving my hands and feet cold and tingly. The way reality sort of splits apart when I finally just do it, and for a minute I’m certain I won’t survive. The adrenaline that courses through you and helps you push through. Or run away.
Dread kicks your fight or flight instinct in.
We actually seek out dread sometimes, don’t we? I went to the water park with my family last weekend and for the first time since I was in high school I went on one of those super steep, straight-down slides. At least part of the fun is fighting through that feeling of dread when you’re at the tippy top, looking down, knowing you’re going to push yourself over the edge. That adrenaline rush is why you’re there, right?
When the thing we dread is something we don’t want, something we are fighting against, that adrenaline burst can lead to bad things.
Today, spend sometime thinking about something one of your characters dreads doing.
My work-in-progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas. I decided to use my character, Guy Gisborne, for this exercise. Guy is my protagonist’s rival.
The thing that Guy dreads is the moment when he has to accept that he will never have Mattie (the Marion character.) She will never belong to him, because she is in love with Rob. Rob and Mattie have the kind of fated love that Guy wants, but knows intuitively he’ll never have.
Through out the story, Guy fights the truth that whatever he thought he might have with Mattie dissolved when Rob came home. That feeling–the dissociative one–drives Guy to take bolder and riskier and more intense steps to try to fight the inevitable. He tries to tie Mattie to him by sheer force of will.
As it becomes more and more obvious that he’s lost (and that, really, there was never, ever a contest), Guy gets more violent and more irrational. He knows that he’s headed toward a moment when every shred of hope will be lost and he will lose something that he can’t bear to lose.
The situation narrows to a point where either he has to do what he dreads–let go of Mattie–or do something drastic to avoid that eventuality.
Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!
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