Fear is a powerful force in our fallen world, although as we know, ‘perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:18).
I’ve not talked about fear before, but it’s something we need to think about if we are going to write Christian stories for young people. Many novelists tap into an element of fear in their readers – but to be able to do this well, we need to know what our readers are afraid of. What would be their worst nightmare? What was yours, when you were that age?
Here are some common fears: being alone, being lost, the dark, evil forces, death of a parent, spiders and snakes, watching loved ones suffer, being trapped/locked up, feeling out of control, being chased and unable to run fast enough, unable to live up to expectations, humiliation, physical pain, an abuser, fear of having shameful acts uncovered.
Do any of these strike a chord with you? Close your eyes and think back to when you were your readers’ age. What did you fear then? What was your worst nightmare? Allow yourself to go back and re-live that fear. Don’t rush away from the sensation – stay there for a while, with your eyes closed. Don’t analyse at this point, just allow yourself to feel what you felt then. When you’re ready, freewrite your experience – your thoughts and emotions, the physical sensations, what it made you want to do, and why.
Some fears are rational, some irrational, but both affect us. As Christians, we can bring the hope of freedom from fear into our stories. But we have to be real.
If readers can connect with a character in your story who finds freedom from fear, if they feel that character understands how they feel, they may also be inspired to find the way through for themselves. If you are a Christian and have found, or are finding, freedom from fear, could you use this in your next novel? Love casting out fear is good news to share!
If you have found this helpful, I would be very grateful if you would leave a comment below. Thank you. 🙂
P.S. If you are looking for a Christian novel for 8-11s which deals with freedom from fear, you might like to take a look at Deepest Darkness by Denise Hayward