Sunday, May 2, 2010


Ok, maybe not Wahoo, but a little yeah!

Fine, maybe not even that because as difficult as it was to cram everything into Act 1, Act 2 is almost too long to comprehend. It seems to stretch out for freaking ever!

It accounts for 50% of your story. In a 500 page novel that is a long ass 250 pages to fill.

This act is usually where the thread starts to fray. Writers lose their way and meander, losing narrative drive and bleeding out all the tension they built in Act 1.

How do you avoid both the fear and the failing?

Simple, break down Act 2 into three parts.

In this case, smaller is better. It makes the act more manageable by giving you specific guideposts to hit at specific points in the story.

You know I love numbers so let’s get started.

In the 7 act structure, Act 2 is divided much like a traditional three act story. ¼ is the 1st part, about ½ the pages are devoted to the middle section and ¼ to the last section as you move towards the turn.

Today though we are going to go over the ground rules of Act 2 then next blog discuss what Act 2 does for us and our Hero then the next three blogs will be devoted to breaking the act down into its smaller components (so don’t start to hyperventilate or panic when you see EVRYTHING that has to be done. I promise I will make it feel manageable by Friday’s blog).

Act 2 Overview:

Act 2 should start around page 125 in a novel and about page 25-33 (depending on the ultimate length of your script, however the standard these days is coming closer and closer to 100 total pages rather than 120) in a script.

If you are more than 150 pages into your novel and haven’t turned your act yet, you’ve got a problem. More than likely you have either started your story out too early (as practice start reading your story at Chap 3, how much did you really lose by not having the info in the first 2 chapters?) or you are spending way too much time on building character or scene setting.

Act 1 needs to MOVE. It is a snapshot of your hero before your story happens. Sure you need to stake out your genre, your tone, hook your reader, and introduce your Hero, but it really does need to be ¼ of your novel.

Because we have a LOT to do in Act and we are going to need each one of those 250 pages to do it!

Next blog: Act 2: Kicking booty and taking names #seriously

Your Assignment:

Where does your Act 1 turn? Is it within 10% of the page 150 mark (page 25-30 of a script)?

If yes, awesome! Move onto the next blog ☺

If not, did you go over? If yes, have someone read your Chapter 3. Now have them describe your novel. How close were they to your vision. What tidbits did they miss and how easily could you move your story forward and just incorporate those few items?

If not, were you short? If yes, then you didn’t spend enough time in your hero’s “old life” long enough or didn’t spend enough time really making the “Opportunity” as excruciating as possible for your hero.

Alright, until tomorrow!

Also I’m looking for feedback to this series of blogs so I’m having a little contest.

I am going to pick a random commenter from the week and give them a free evaluation of their Act 1 turn.

So comment away (I am only counting 1 per day and since I’m like this, I am only picking the winner from a pool of couchant comments. If you write “You rock!” while true, will not be in the pool. I am looking to expand the conversation ☺)

1 comment:

  1. I'm curious about the 500-page novel - I thought that was too big for a first novel and tend to write more like 300 pages, 80,000 words. Would you be able to translate into word count?

    I find my current WIP Act 1 turning at around page 65 so am I underwriting?