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The living problem of ACT II Storytelling #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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  I don’t know many people who run into drama and maximal conflict with their arms wide-open, ready to face off with someone near and dear to them, ready to cut them off or curse them to infinity and beyond, excited about being alone because trust is something we no longer know.

  Welcome to the world of writing ACT II.

  In 90 Days to Your Novel, Sarah Domet states, in real life, we are “conflict adverse … We strive to stay out of trouble and make decisions to bring us as close as possible to our desired outcomes … unless seriously provoked.”

   I reread this page just yesterday. I reread it over and over because finally, I’ve been given permission to do a very hard thing for me, create tension, difficult tension, which might really hurt the characters we breathe life into.

  ACT I is the introduction to your character and the world. ACT II is what Domet calls “the story.”

  In the Hunger Games … ACT I shows us Katniss as a realistic survivor whose mission is to provide for her younger sister because her father is dead and her mother lost herself while grieving. Katniss has one trusted friend with the same survival mission. Life is as it is. Then suddenly she finds herself at the name drawing ceremony when a boy and girl will enter an Olympian style fight to the death. Her younger sister is selected. Shocked, Katniss volunteers to take her place. ACT II begins on the train on the way to capital where she’s exposed to her wildest fantasies of food, clothing and the comforts of what was once an unattainable lifestyle. Her perception of what she is has to change. She must become pretty and fake. She must make allies of people she may one day kill. Survival is not just about skill anymore, and can she play a different version of herself to survive for her sister against her internal nature?

  In Jane Eyre … Act I is all about a young ordinary orphan growing up devote to her christian faith and unwilling to compromise her internal character. Finally free of a hateful aunt and an orphanage, she takes a well respected position as a governess. ACT II is all about her conversations with a sour older patron of the home. Unexpectedly, she develops feelings for the patron. When she finds out he loves her too, she falls hard and her love challenges her internal strength and christian devotion where she must ultimately make the choice between her faith and her strength, or, the only love she’s ever known.

 

  How do we take away what our characters want the most?

  • According to 90 Days to Your Novel, the best place to start is a timeline of events between ACT 1 and ACT 2.
  • Note the plot points of wants and needs.
  • Ask yourself how you keep your character from getting what he or she truly wants along the way.
  • Ask yourself, What continues to keep her/him from getting it and how can I deepen the conflict? 
  • How does the character motive and wants contribute to the action into deeper conflict?
  • Lastly, what points are left to get him or her to the climax, when finally you are free of ACT II.

Remember, bad things happen to all of us. Bad things must happen to your beloved characters. So as you write through ACT II remember this: Don’t give your MC this deep want or desire. ACT III is the choice of this attainment.

Additional Sources:

https://stevenpressfield.com/2010/06/second-act-problems/

https://www.emwelsh.com/blog/writing-act-two

https://www.well-storied.com/blog/second-act?rq=act%20two

Don’t Let Your Mind Derail Your Plot #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

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“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest.”

~Venus Williams

Thoughts come and go. Topics often change like the wind. Depending on where we sit in any given moment, we might be completely focused on a task thinking about a scene and a character in this scene that has to get from A to B when before we know it, we get lost in the picture we’re seeing, the action we’re creating, or the back and forth dialogue unfolding as we type. We finish it. Maybe we reread and think, “Yes, this is it.” Maybe we have time to tackle another scene and we begin to … but a problem arises. The scene we just wrote didn’t happen like the plan. Suddenly the plot is derailed. The characters have shifted all out of whack. Now we have two different stories with thousands of words we’ve just written and we don’t want to cut them.

Ever been there?

Today, I’m sharing what I am doing to maximize my time with my new work in progress and stick to my goals. I’ve always been one to outline, but I’ve also been easily derailed by the shifting images in my head as I write.

  1. Note Cards. I started this technique this time with color coded tabs for each ACT. Each card has the Act and scene number at the top. A quick external or internal line is written on the front. On the back side I have listed the time, date and place, all the majors characters in play, and a two or three sentence plot summary. The last line on the card lists the impact whether I’m revealing a clue, leaving with a cliff hanger, or a question the protagonist must face. I can shift these cards. I can touch them. NEXT, I generate the digital outline.
  2. The Pages APP. Currently, I have retyped my outline from my note cards into this app. It gave me time to reprocess. I also came up with a few add-in scenes I missed the first go-round. I can also pull out my phone and take a peek on a lunch break or after work when my computer might not be handy.
  3. The 3-Ring Binder. This time, I’m printing my outline. I’m also printing off my character notes and keeping them handy right next to me as I write. I hope by keeping these pages in front of me and glancing at all the details before I start to write, I’ll eliminate distraction and focus on the end goal.
  4. Streamlining New Ideas. If a new idea happens to sneak in, I read about an APP to use: Remember the Milk. I came across it on an article on planning your novel. I’ve downloaded the app and I hope to use it and capture new ideas then compare them with what I currently have before I get lost in them. I’ll let you know next month how it pans out. 🙂

Question: Do you have any other great tidbits or ways to organize your writing that helps you stay on track? I’d love to hear them.

One last thought: