When your protagonist – or any of your main supporting characters – is in distress, how do they respond? Do they fight, flee, or freeze?

We all experience these instinctual responses at some level, some more extremely than others. We also respond differently depending on the type of threat. One person will flee from a physical confrontation but charge head on against a reputational threat. Some people thrive on emotional confrontations and others freeze up in the face of another’s anger.

In Conscious Living, Gay Hendricks suggests another state: flow. In other words, tune into the feelings and sit with them until they pass.

That’s great for advice but not dramatic enough for fiction.

For today, consider how your character reacts to threats, either physical, psychological, social, reputational, emotional, or otherwise. Consider these questions:

  • What threatens them the most?
  • How does their body react?
  • What do they think or remember?
  • What do they think or feel when the crisis is passing?
  • What do they feel about their reaction? Do they think they made the right choice or are they ashamed by their behavior?