I am terrified of heights, so you’d never find me zip lining over the rainforest canopy, standing on the precipice of a canyon or climbing the side of a mountain.
But what if my life was threatened by rapidly rising waters? Would I climb a tree to save my life? Most likely I would, but not without first trying to come up with other less risky options.
What are the parameters of your character’s comfort zone? Is she so terrified of spiders that she freezes when one lands on her? If a snake slithers across the trail, will he turn around and go back to the car?
You need to think about this. Begin by making a list of possible scares that fit within the parameters of your character’s personality. For example, someone who loves flying might be willing to bungee jump off a bridge, but would never swim in the ocean.
Try to come up with at least five things that fit within the comfort zone and at least five that do not.
Now, write a scene in which your character must face her fears. Make the stakes high enough that the story is intriguing. No if I do this I win a candy bar stuff, but rather if I don’t do this my friends will tell everyone that I’m a wuss, further damaging my already fragile relationships.
Or even make it life threatening. If I don’t jump out this window, I’m likely to die in the fire or be shot by the robbers or be bitten by the frothing-at-the-mouth dog.
When you are finished, reread, adding tension whenever it is appropriate.
Have fun with this one.