Act One, I Envy People Who Have Never Met You
What's this? A new blog post? And so soon after your last, A.P.???
Yes, yes, whatever, shut up.
So, first of all, episode 2 of The Genre Hustle is up! We're discussing inciting incidents in this episode, so you should tune in here to listen! For those who don't know, The Genre Hustle is me and four of my writer friends getting together and discussing the craft, our own work, published work, and commiserating with one another as we work towards making it as authors. We are your virtual writing group!
Alright, self promotion done...
Act one! God damn. I've been smashing my head against a particularly sharp stone wall for months now. Rat, my novel, has been this immovable force, this unwieldy behemoth casting me into shadows filled with self doubt and night time panic attacks. Outline after outline, rewrites, revisions, re-imaginings. I think I mentioned this in my last blog post, but I almost walked away from my novel. I mean, fully wanted to drop it and not think, look, or speak about Rat for a couple months.
But I soldiered on.
And guess what? I've been rewarded with FINALLY having an act one that makes sense.
I was overly complicating things. I was trying to do too much. I was trying to bring in too much world-building, too many sub-plots, too many other places. It was unwieldy. It didn't make sense. I was struggling with travel times on horseback vs. walking, distances and geographic locations of events, battle tactics... TOO MUCH!
Cutting away all that work, all those thoughts and research, should have been hard. It wasn't. It was like throwing off a particularly heavy backpack at the end of a long school day. All the confusing weight of places, sub-plots, and whatever just evaporated, leaving behind a clear delineation of act one. The inciting incident. The first plot point. The internal debate of my MC. Rising tension. The stakes.
Good lord do I feel great. I've actually been writing every day again. As I should be, I know, but it's good when it's actually happening.
We've all heard the advice before. Walk away from the piece you're working on. Give it space. Let it breathe. Let it marinade and then come back after a while. Work on something else.
No. I disagree. Shit on that. I've done that and it just made coming back all the worse. That anxiety didn't go anywhere. It was still that looming thing that I knew I had to come back to, except I was even further distanced from it and I didn't know where to jump back in.
Don't do it. Double-down on it. Keep smashing your head against that sharp stone wall. There's a reason the Dark Souls franchise is so popular. Keep at it. You got this. You'll figure it out. Don't give up.
'Cause if you do, it may be for good.