Thursday, March 11, 2010
Long is the Way and Hard that Out of a Novel’s Second Act Leads Up to Publication.
Have I mentioned I’m working on a novel? It’s a Middle Grade, of course, and all of my ninja skills are being tested in its completion. This one is an action adventure story I will here refer to as “The And Then Story.” As in, AND THEN this happened, AND THEN that happened, because this story has everything in it: the kitchen sink, the kitchen sink’s friends, and all of their cousins. For example, a few weeks ago I finished a chapter in which my protagonist was attacked by both sharks and dinosaurs! And that was in just one chapter!
Alas, I am past the initial “Oh-I-love-you-so-much-new-book” phase of act one, and I have moved into the “Stupid-book-why-aren’t-you-already-done-so-I-can-sell-you” phase of act two and am staring down the beginnings of “This-is-the-worst-book-ever-written-and-I-suck-and-will-die-in-a-pauper’s-grave” phase of the end of act two. I don’t know why second acts are so difficult but they are. I think it’s partly because as I see there is more book behind me than ahead of me, I start to get self-conscious.
Some famous artist, I don’t remember who or I’d quote him, said that the only perfect painting was a blank canvas. The moment his first brush stroke was laid, the painting was ruined. Maybe part of the reason the second act is so tough is because once the initial frenzy of the first act and the inciting incident are done with, and the steady tension building toward the climax begins I have a chance to glance back over my shoulder and glimpse all of the ways in which I’ve already ruined a perfectly good canvas.
But no writer ever sold a book with blank pages, so I must soldier onward. I’m taking deep breaths and keeping my regular writing schedule. One word at a time, one sentence, one paragraph, one page, one chapter. And besides, it all looked plausible on the @$%* outline!