Free Character Writing Prompts #56: 
The Fearful

Don't be afraid of these dark character writing prompts about those who are frequently fearful. I've written about many people that are willing to be proactive like firefighters and heroes. The fearful are those that may want to say something or take action but they are simply too afraid. This fear may be the result of something that has happened to them earlier in life, it may be genetics at work or it may just be who they are deep inside. In stories, the fearful are sometimes the most frustrating characters as we desperately want them to act, seeing their inaction mirrored in our lives during times when we were too afraid. When a fearful person is able to push past those emotions, however, that is when these characters become triumphant. 

Free Character Writing Prompts #56: The Fearful

1. He always did everything that anyone had asked of him throughout his entire lifetime. He was afraid that if he stopped cleaning his room or doing his other chores that his parents would stop loving him. He was scared that if he wasn't the perfect, model employee his boss would fire him and he would be on the streets. He showed no spine whatsoever in his relationships with women and was prone to dating people that bossed him around. All he wanted to do was to go through life relatively unnoticed and to be as good as everybody else. What would have to happen for him to fight back against a life that had been pushing him around too long?

2. Everything he did throughout his time on Earth was motivated by a fear of death. He avoided every activity that might be considered dangerous, including water sports, carrying heavy objects and air travel. He worked out like crazy to keep himself in top health, even though he absolutely hated exercise. He made countless safe choices, from the neighborhoods he lived in to the people he dated. There was nothing in the way of excitement in his life, but he felt less anxious that way. His friends and family members made fun of his behavior, and they secretly wished he would have led a more ambitious life. Is there anything that this fearful individual might be willing to act more risky about and why or why not?

3. She was deathly afraid of authority, with good reason in the early part of her life. Through corporal punishment at school and parental punishment at home, she was a frequent recipient of bumps and bruises. She got it into her head early on that messing with people in power just got you hurt and that's how she lived the rest of her days. She was kind and understood the plight of those receiving similar abuse, but she was usually too scared to stand up for others or herself. She let herself be run over by supervisors and bosses at work. She even married a man very similar to her father, who typically dominated her. What will her future hold as she lets other people run her life?

4. She absolutely refused to grow up, and to her, that meant getting a real job that utilized her skills in a full-time capacity. Despite her $100,000 worth of education, college just reinforced her belief that the real world was simply not for her. She kept a job at a small bakery after school and simply continued to hang out with her friends and put off the inevitable. She did all she could to avoid paying her college loans. She continued to date people younger than her so she could stay connected to the undergraduate culture. She enjoyed her time spent a great deal, but five years after graduation, she wondered if she should face her fears and try to make a living for herself. Describe a typical day-to-day life for this college grad.

5. He was a very large man who had inherited big bones and a propensity for muscle tone from his family. Despite the fact that he was an academic, most usually mistook him for a bouncer or a professional wrestler. And he had several major phobias that would send this hulk of a man into a corner like a scared kitten. He was deathly afraid of spiders, mice, snakes and several other creepy crawlies. The fear first manifest at a Halloween haunted house in his teens and since that time he's been trying his best to counter the fear with psychiatry and medication. He has had no luck as of yet and still has nightmares every night. Will he ever be able to counteract his major fears?

6. A life in an extremely rough neighborhood had toughened him up. He had faced death on several occasions and in order to defend himself and his family he made some allies along with some enemies. Now that he was settled down with a family, hundreds of miles away, he still couldn't shake the worry that some of those enemies would find him. He became obsessed with acquiring a top notch security system and taught his wife and kids how to defend themselves. His new family thought he was going overboard, but he'd seen several signs lately that someone was looking for them. Are the signs for real or is his fear manifesting them for him?

7. She seemed like your typical overprotective mom. She wouldn't let her kids play on playgrounds without the protective rubbery surface underneath. She refused to let them go out for contact sports. She also made sure that they were close at all times, employing a leash when they were younger and a cell phone with a GPS tracker when they grew older. Even though her friends told her she was going overboard, she felt like she couldn't help it. She was just so scared that something would happen to her kids and she didn't want to take any chances. If she continues down this path, will she experience any issues in her relationships with her children?

8. It started slowly, but over the course of about a decade, she had become completely paralyzed by the fear of germs. She wore a mask in as many public places as she could get away with. She constantly carried hand sanitizer around and she refused to carry money due to rumors it was one of the dirtiest objects someone could carry. She wasn't sure exactly what caused the change, though it was around the time that her father passed away and her finances were quickly crashing down. Perhaps with so much out of control in her life, she used an extreme amount of control with germs to have control over something in her life. Regardless, she wanted to make a change but she wasn't sure how. What are some of the things she will attempt to get rid of this germ phobia?

9. It was impossible for doctors to tell if he had a medical problem or if his fear was so strong that it manifested in illness. This man appeared to be allergic to technology. There had been some previous cases of allergies and reactions to certain types of electricity. In those cases, when someone even brings a cell phone or camera into an adjacent room, the person might start getting headaches or a rash. That wasn't the case with this individual, who only seemed to get sick when he saw technology coming near him. He became deathly afraid of these devices including cell phones, wireless networks and even computerized cash registers. If he's not allergic, what has caused him such fear around technology to the point that he grows ill?

10. She was absolutely afraid of commitment in any way shape or form. When a person she was dating started to get too clingy, she would immediately cease returning phone calls and would un-friend the person on all social media channels. She refused on go on "dates" and wanted as little information about the people she "saw" as possible. A few of her friends believed that this fear was a result of her father getting divorced twice and her hatred of all things sappy and romantic. They thought if she found "the one" she'd drop all of this nonsense, but after ditching several good candidates for the job, they were no longer sure. What are some of the ways in which she has manifest this fear of commitment? 

Did you enjoy these character writing prompts? Keep an eye out for the book 1,000 Character Writing Prompts in February 2012. 

Done with Character Writing Prompts about the Fearful? Go back to Creative Writing Prompts. 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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