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Fear Makes Readers Happy

To write a novel one needs to know several essential elements that can make a plot work. Learn more about how to write a novel at book inc.

By Rachael Harrigan

March 14, 2022

The Hero’s Journey is a favorite plot structure for creative fiction writers. It relates the story of an ordinary person overcoming great adversity by defeating “the enemy.” Done well, this story type leaves the reader feeling as victorious as the Hero.

There are several essential elements of this plot if it’s to work, but in this series, I’ll focus on just one.


The more our hero fears the enemy, and the more the reader feels that fear, the more satisfying is the hero’s final triumph. In short, the scarier the enemy, the sweeter the victory. To this end, the writer’s purpose is to raise the stakes by dredging up the readers’ worst fears. We want our readers quaking in their chairs, pages fluttering in tremulous hands, before the Hero takes that last satisfyingly devastating swing at the enemy.

How to accomplish this?

Enter stage left, the Monster. But not just any monster. It’s not as easy as eeny, meeny, miney, moe ; pick a monster by the toe. You need to design a monster that will send your readers running, screaming into the night. Find your audiences’ worst nightmare, terrorize them with their worst fear, and you’ll win their hearts.

This series will explore my favorite beasties and why they resonate with the reader.

Rachael Harrigan, a serial entrepreneur drawn to the lure of the next bright idea, has helped develop and support several successful small businesses.