Does Your Character Fight, Freeze, Or Flee?

Does Your Character Fight, Freeze, Or Flee?

In this post, we look at characters who fight, freeze, or flee.

Does Your Character Fight, Freeze, Or Flee?

When you are writing a novel, choose one of these ways for your main characters to handle conflict. When we are threatened we are faced with three options: we fight, we take flight, or we freeze. It is a good idea to decide which one of these your character will mostly choose to do. Of course, the surprise comes when they decide to go with another option. If a character normally freezes when faced with something unpleasant, choose your moment for them to fight or flee instead.

Read: 32 Ways To Write About Fear

You should mostly stick to their normal response to achieve a believable character. This makes your reader long for them to take another action and to grow as a character.

In most books, the antagonist would be ready for a fight. The protagonist initially freezes or flees to avoid conflict. At some point in the story – usually three quarters of the way through, the protagonist has to fight back. This is the pay off for the reader who has been rooting for them all along. Characters change in a novel (if it’s a good one) and their responses to unpleasant situations change too.

How To Include These Responses

  1. Decide on which response suits your four main characters and choose a response that suits the story goal as well.
  2. List how each response will affect the plot.
  3. Every time you introduce conflict, allow them to interact this way.
  4. When they eventually choose another option, make sure it moves the story forward in some way.

Remember that this post is not about real fight, flight, or flee responses to a trauma. Your characters can’t sustain this for an entire book. It is just another way to help you create believable characters. (If you want to read more about extreme reactions to trauma, please read this article.)

The Last Word

I hope this post has given you another way to round out your characters. Does your character fight, take flight, or freeze?

by Amanda Patterson
© Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 27th July 2022
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