Reading Magic on the Storm by Devon Monk this weekend, I came across this passage about an elevator ride:

He opened his mouth, thought better of it, and instead stood there and whistled.

Whistled. Using up all the air in the tiny, tiny room, filling it up with sound so that there wasn't even room for me to hear my own thoughts. There wasn't enough room for me to breathe. I closed my eyes and tried to picture open fields, blue skies, oceans, deserts. Big horizons, big space, big air.

Character flaws and phobias add color to a story. That elevator ride would have been boring otherwise. Drab walls, whirring noises, an annoying friend whistling.

I have a flaw too. I'm terrified of heights, and I have no idea why I feel this way. In high school, I couldn't get any higher than the second bleacher. Rock climbing with my fiance (now husband) at a rock wall studio, I could only climb two-thirds up the wall before I froze. Clinging desperately to the wall, I couldn't repel down until I had slowly crept down to the halfway point.

Working in a downtown 100 story building in Cincinnati, I had to take the elevator to the 70th floor. But I couldn't go past the 65th in the elevator. Even without seeing out the windows, I felt too high. I'd get off on the 65th and walk the rest of the way. Crazy, huh?

Hiking with my husband in Red River Gorge in Kentucky, I loved the mountaintops.

But I couldn't get within 6 feet of the edge. Even being that close, I had to sit down. If no one was watching, I'd have been lying on my belly.

Look over the edge? No way.

Worst was some indoor hocky stadium. No problems climbing up the steep stairs. No problems sitting at the top of the concrete tiers. But when I had to walk down, the world tilted at odd angles. I almost scooted down on my butt.

Except then I would have been trampled by the exiting throngs.

What about you? What are your fears? What are your characters' fears?


  1. I tend to give my characters similar fears to mine, although sometimes I make them a little tougher than I am about them. I have a huge fear of heights, kind of funny when you consider I usually tower above everyone. :)I also have a completely irrational fear of anything slimy, with no legs or with more than four legs. Spiders? I completely freak out. I also hate rodents. *shudders* This is challenging since my office/garage is full of the little buggers.

  2. I have a problem with swarming things. I used to think that it was just ants I didn't like (I lived in oregon where the ants are the size of beavers and their houses are as tall as a child), but I've decided it's not the individual ant that bothers me, it's the fact that you never know there's one on you until half the hive is up your leg past the knee. *shivers*
    Flying swarming things suck too. Give me a can of RAID.


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