Sweaty Buttnuggets . . . or The Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy NaNoWriMo Novel Generator!
The easiest way to understand the Wound (scar), Shield (flaw), and Sword (virtue) protagonist process of story and how it applies to their flaw vs. virtue argument is to write a horror story for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month: from November 1st to November 30th).
I don’t partake in NaNoWriMo because as an author I already write every day so to me every month is NaNoWriMo, but for the rest of you writers aspiring authorship I suggest the following sure-fire method for writing productivity and guaranteed success:
Pick a phobia, any phobia, then apply it as your protagonist’s Wound. Regardless the chosen phobia, you now automatically have a dominant character flaw of Fear. And from this you automatically have its opposite virtue of Courage.
Horror: Phobia = Fear vs. Courage
Plus your protagonist has an automatic backstory because something traumatic had to happen in order for them to get their particular phobia.
Because every story about Fear vs. Courage is the protagonist eventually confronting their fear, you next move to the Rubicon and decide whether your protagonist overcomes their fear or surrenders to it.
Remember: Overcoming the Internal Antagonist during the Rubicon by choosing virtue over flaw is what provides the triumphant protagonist the ability to win against the External Antagonist during the Climax of Act 3. And surrendering to the Internal Antagonist during the Rubicon by choosing flaw magnified over virtue is what condemns the tragic protagonist to lose against the External Antagonist during the Climax of Act 3.
In horror stories such as this, the Internal Antagonist is their dominant character flaw of Fear they confront at the end of Act 2, and the External Antagonist ‘monster’ is the physical manifestation of that fear they will confront during the Climax at the end of Act 3.
For example, as with Jaws: aquaphobic protagonist Sheriff Brody, who almost drowned as a kid, must overcome his fear of water in order to defeat the man-eating shark antagonist, making it the perfect ‘monster’ for that particular protagonist with that particular phobia.
Also remember: the full definition of the Inciting Incident is that it must happen to the protagonist, and it must present their first awareness of the story’s central conflict, as well it must be tailored to the protagonist’s dominant character flaw, and it must be linked to the antagonist.
For those who enjoy partaking in NaNoWriMo I advise using the exampled Horror Story template because it plots your story for you in seconds flat. Phobia = Fear vs. Courage isn’t the only Horror Story template, but it is the most common as well the easiest to plot and write.
So pick an interesting phobia, which gives you the automatic flaw vs. virtue argument of Fear vs. Courage. Now move to the Rubicon and decide if your protagonist overcomes or surrenders to their dominant character flaw (I suggest flipping a coin — heads they overcome and tails they surrender to — so you become accustomed to writing both outcomes). Now make a big list of the worst, scariest, most traumatizing and traumatic situations you could ever put someone in who possesses that specific phobia. Weed out the bad, boring and predictable ideas until you have only good, exciting and unpredictable ideas. Then rearrange your list from least intense to most intense. Now apply your list from least intense to most intense to the plot points of your outline from Act 1 through Act 2 to Act 3. Once you have your outline finished, you’re done!
Repeat this process with a different phobia every day for the first two weeks of October. After which you will have a bank of 14 horror story plot outlines. Go through them and pick the most interesting one you want to write. Now spend every day for the last two weeks of October perfecting your potential novel’s outline by expanding each plot point’s one concise sentence into more detailed and multiple paragraphs until you have a guide dog synopsis of your entire story.
Starting on November 1st, using your synopsis guide dog and wielding a minimum daily word count goal, write your novel for NaNoWriMo.
The rules of NaNoWriMo is to write then submit at least 50,000 words by 11:59 on November 30th.
Instead of shaving it so close, I suggest 29 days of writing then spending the final day with a quick edit before your submission. Which gives you a 1,725 daily minimum word count goal for a 50,025 word novel (1,725 x 29 = 50,025).
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!