This is No Time for Your Protagonist or You to Give Up

As you approach the three quarter mark of your story, do not succumb to a personal crisis as your protagonist reaches her darkest moment. You’re beginning to doubt yourself? Evoke the emotion you’re feeling in your writing. Your story feels a mess? Use your feelings to bring depth to your protagonists emotions. Everyday brings new challenges until you’re ready to give up? This isThis is no time for your protagonist or you to give up what your protagonist should be feeling. You wonder what’s the point? Thanksgiving is calling you out of your writing cave? All to often, this is when this is when a writer quits, discontinues, abandons the story. You’ve heard the expression — the darkest hour is just before the dawn. This is exactly where you are as things seem at their worst. In just days they’ll get better. This is no time for your protagonist or you to give up. 

The Crisis

To satisfy the Universal Story, the crisis and scene of highest intensity so far in the story generally hits around three-quarters into the entire page count, give or take a breath or two or three. This is the spot in your story where the energy of the story rises to a breaking point.

The energy in the story coalesces and explodes at the crisis. Sometimes the highest point in the story so far functions primarily on an external dramatic action level. The action at the crisis always reveals more about the protagonist’s internal makeup and emotional maturity.

A story is about a character transforming her weaknesses into strengths. Plot Whisperer Tweet: The protagonist’s fears, flaws, and strengths make her believable and represent challenges she must overcome if she’s to transform.

Two Separate Scenes

Sometimes the crisis takes the form of two separate events written in two separate scenes. In this case, one scene hits the highest point so far in the story for the dramatic action plot crisis. Then the scene moves even higher and a reflects the character’s emotional development plot dark night. Possibly the character emotional development crisis comes first and the dramatic action crisis follows. Generally, these two high points occur near each other for maximum effect. Though they also can occur separately and fall further apart.

Character Transformation

Consider the change or transformation your protagonist (the character most changed by the dramatic action of your story) undergoes in your story. Emphasis is given to the protagonist’s character emotional development because the change a character undergoes is pivotal to writing a great story. What forces the transformation? The antagonist. It’s important to remember that the protagonist is only as good as her antagonists. 

Major Antagonists

If you’re looking for help for scene ideas to build to the crisis, consider the antagonists.

The main character faces many antagonists throughout the story — anything or anyone who stands in the way of your protagonist achieving her goal is considered an antagonist. In every scene the protagonist has a goal she believes takes her another step nearer to her desired goal. Every scene has some sort of direct or indirect conflict, tension, suspense or uncertainty which comes from whatever or whomever stands in the way of her moving forward.

Some antagonists and obstacles come and go — the weather, a time limit, a family member. Some antagonists continue throughout the entire story with the protagonist. A story does not require that you have a physical antagonist with a face and a name and a past. And, yes, many protagonists are riddled with an internal antagonist that does more harm than any external interference. However, by creating an external antagonist(s), you afford yourself more opportunities to develop excitement in the exotic world of the middle (the antagonist’s world).

The Protagonist’s Crisis  is the Antagonist’s Climax

Antagonists create subplots in the middle and help create the tension and conflict that leads up to the antagonist climax which serves as the protagonist’s crisis (around the 3/4 mark in your story which you should reach and write on 11/21 (for the NaNoWriMo writing schedule — click HERE).

Antagonist(s) demand the same attention to detail in development as your protagonist.

(Additional tip: The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories has all sorts of antagonist’s exercises and plot planners.)

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NaNoWriMo Book Giveaway

You are committed to write. So write a story. All too often, writers who take part in NaNoWriMo end the month with a whole lot of words and not much of a story. Instead, why not finish out the month with a rough draft of a novel with a plot? Write a beginning, a middle, and an end. Write a story in which the protagonist transforms and the action is always exciting. Weave subplots into the primary plot. Write a story with meaning.  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts will help you accomplish that.
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