What scares you?

Jon Jefferson
Author Jon Jefferson

Guest Post
by Jon Jefferson

I have a confession to make. Horror scares the crap out of me, always has. Growing up I couldn’t watch most of the movies my friends were watching. Can you imagine, I have never seen the movie Alien. Although I did have a two foot tall alien action figure (no they aren’t dolls). Even that scared the crap out of me.

The problem is, was, and shall be, my imagination would build up a picture that was so much more than the sum of the parts in front of me. The stories my mind created based on the images brought out intense fears that, for me, seemed like no one else experienced.

As I look back on my life now, certain points come back to me where I felt these intense fears. They were irrational, they had no basis on reality, but they were strong. Even now when I watch movies like Alien, I can see the duality of how much it scares me and the reality of the costumes and movie magic.

I can hear you asking, what does some scared guy and horror stories have to do with anything? The answer is simple, our emotions come through in our writing. As crazy as it might seem, I tend to lean toward darker subject matter, often playing around in macabre and horror elements in my writing. The terror I feel comes through my writing to the reader.

What is it you are afraid to write? I know you have something that is so filled with emotion that you don’t want to share it with others. Many times we avoid writing the more intimate parts of our lives into our work because we are terrified of what others might think when they read it. Sometimes the emotional baggage is more than we are willing to share.

But it is these moments, these parts of us that are so filled with emotion that our readers connect with. These moments connect in the primal emotions in all of us.

I remember a moment a while back when I was writing a scene for a story I haven’t shared anywhere yet (No time to share right now). But this scene, I was there in the moment and I felt it all, and it scared the bejeebers out of me. What do you think the odds are of that same scene hitting someone else the same way?

As writers it is our job not only to chronicle the stories of our characters, but also be open and honest with our readers. It is for us to share the raw emotions on the page even when we are terrified to do so. The things we are too terrified to share, are the very same things that the reader desires and craves to read.

It all goes back to “Write what you know.” This is more than what you see at face value. It is taking what we know at our core level and sharing that with the people around us. When we are true to our fears and other emotions, they will find their way to the page and create a connection with the reader.


Jon Jefferson writes Speculative fiction with forays into Noir and Bizarro. His stories have appeared in the 2013 Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology, and the Foil and Phazer Divide and Conquer Anthology. Flash fiction stories can be found at his website. Learn more about Jon at his Amazon author page.

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8 thoughts on “What scares you?”

  1. Great post Jon and so true. Life has scary parts filled with emotional turmoil. I write horror and leak my fears into the stories a dribble at a time instead of a flood. That’s the only way I can face them. I can feel when a scene is authentic because I am scared myself.

  2. A lot of truth in what you say Jon. When there is a scene I know I should write but I find myself writing “around” it, or glossing over it with little detail, it’s because I know it is going to be very hard to write. Once I finally make myself stare the scene in the face and write it properly, those often turn out to be my best scenes. But writing them drains me. I have to shut myself away and lock the door while I work. I go through lots of tissues and become very unsociable. Yet writing it, I’m always careful never to describe the emotions of the characters. I just describe what happens to them in ruthless detail and let the reader decide on the emotions they must be feeling.
    If your story contains a character who is clearly a loving mother and you show her having to stand by as her child dies in agony in front of her, and she can do little to help. You just show her doing what little she can to the best of her abilities. There is no need to prattle on about her devastating sorrow. The reader will feel her pain in their own way.

    1. From a horror stand point, the whole idea of a mother watching the children in agony brings in so many story ideas. Wait.. that isn’t what we were talking about was it?

      Oh ya, those tougher moments can be just as draining to relive when we write them as they were in life. Of course, if it is something you haven’t as yet experienced in real life it is even tougher considering it is all new to you still.

  3. I say bring on the emotional baggage, but you know me, I readily admit to writing pretty close to real life in that some kernel in every story, plot, character, and setting I devise somehow pulls from real life. My own tolerance for horror is quite high. When I do venture into genre fiction, it’s horror I entertain possibilities of writing, but that’s a ways down the road yet.

  4. I thought I was the only person who was terrified of her own writing! I have company!! There are times when I actually look away from the paper I’m writing on because I can’t believe I’m writing what is being put down. At the same time, I am parsing my emotions–what is my body doing, what is my mind thinking, what would I do in this situation–and I write that in. And everyone, without fail, has told me that they couldn’t put my book down. (Well, that’s the superglue…ha!)

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