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How to Describe Being Scared in Creative Writing

I’m often asked how to describe being scared in creative writing. Is it correct to say that you’re scared or worried? Is it better to use the present tense or the past tense? Can you use adjectives to communicate your fears, or does adverbs have to take over? While these are all valid questions, there is more than one correct answer, and this post is going to help you find the one that works best for you.

The Present-Tense Question

If you’ve ever taken a creative writing class or attended a creative writing workshop, you may have learned that the present tense is often preferred to describe present events. The reason for this is that in the present tense, the action is happening in the present moment, so it is difficult to describe something as it is happening without using the present tense. For example, if I want to write about being scared, I would say “I’m scared” rather than “I was scared.” The present tense is used to describe activities that are taking place right now, so it is a natural fit while writing about something that is happening.

The Past-Tense Question

The past tense is used to describe past events or states of affairs, and in many cases it can be a good choice to use this tense when writing about something that happened in the past. However, if you’re writing something set in the future, it’s best to use the present tense. For example, if I’m writing a dystopian novel set in the year 2047 and I want to describe being scared of nuclear war, it would be incorrect to use the past tense because the war happened centuries ago. In this case, I would say “I’m scared of nuclear war.”

Describing Past Fears With Adjectives

As you may have guessed, one of the biggest problems with using the past tense to describe fears is that you would normally use adjectives to describe the fear itself. For example, if I’m writing about my fear of heights and I decide to use the past tense, I would say “I was scared of heights.” However, if I want to describe how I felt when I was scared, I would say “I was feeling nervous, anxious, or terrified.” In this case, I would choose “nervous” or “anxious” because they are more specific emotions than “scared.” If I decide that I want to be more specific and add in “terrified,” that is also a correct choice because that is a highly specific adjective that can only be used to describe that specific emotion. As you may have guessed, this is a problem because when I use the past tense to describe my fears, my story becomes much more boring. Remember: less is more; a story is only as interesting as its characters, setting, and dialogue. If you get too detailed and specify every emotion that you felt, it may lose its intrigue. Therefore, it’s usually best to avoid using the past tense to describe your fears because it will make your story much more dull. On the other hand, using the present tense makes your story more dynamic because your characters are living in the present moment and experiencing the events as they are taking place.

Why Adverbs Work Better When Describing Fears

Another common question that is often asked about fear is how to best describe your fear. Should you use the present or the past tense? Once again, it depends on the type of fear that you have. If you’re writing about a horrible monster or an evil force, then it’s generally preferred to use the past tense. For example, if I have a fear of spiders and I decide to use the past tense, I would say “I was afraid of spiders.” However, if I want to write about my fear of clowns, it would be incorrect to use the past tense because this is a personality trait that I have and not a fear that is causing me stress. In this case, I would say “I’m afraid of clowns.”

One thing that I’ve noticed about writing about fear is that many people feel the need to use adverbs a lot while describing it. While there is nothing wrong with using adverbs to describe emotions or feelings, it is generally best to avoid doing so because they can often make a story seem more cliché than realistic. While you should always strive to be realistic, it doesn’t mean that you have to use clichés to do so. Remember: the more specific and realistic you can be while still maintaining an air of intrigue, the better your story will be. This is especially important while writing about fear because the moment that you start using clichés, it becomes much easier to guess what is going on. It’s better to use vivid imagery and specific details to make your story more realistic, not because you’re afraid of using clichés.

How To Use Fear To Your Advantage

While it is certainly not fun to write about fear, you can actually use it to your advantage. Many famous authors have written books and been made into films about terrifying events that they were actually scared of. For example, Stephen King wrote about his fear of flying in Carrie and got paid very well for it. Similarly, Orson Welles wrote parts of The Haunting of Hill House while frightened by the war that was actually going on at that time. If you’re able to write about something that you were genuinely afraid of, it can help you become more familiar and in touch with your fear. This can then be used to create more realistic and intriguing stories. Of course, it’s not always easy, but the more effort that you put into it, the better your stories will be. Hopefully, this post has helped you develop a better understanding of how to describe being scared in creative writing.