Monday, September 22, 2014

Nine Exercises #7: A Draft: Act II

Welcome to the seventh installment of Nine Exercises to Help You Draft a New Story.

Exercise #7: A Draft: Act II

Time: 25 minutes

Yesterday you wrote a fast and messy draft of Act I of your story. Your character started with a problem and a desire. She formed a plan, and embarked on it.

Or something else happened, something you weren't expecting. Think back on it for a minute now and see if you can identify those elements—problem, desire and plan—in what you wrote, even if it's different from what you sketched in the plot outline.

You might have enjoyed the writing yesterday, or it might have felt hard, and strange, and you're not sure whether you should go on. You might think you'd better go back and re-formulate the plot, maybe using a trifold board and fifty index cards or some other technique you've been reading about in a screenwriting book. Don't. Not yet. Today you have to be writing.

Listen to E. L. Doctorow:
Planning to write is not writing. Outlining a book is not writing. Researching is not writing. Talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.
Today you'll write Act II, in which your character's plan does not work out. Something bad happens, then something worse happens.

Write for fifteen minutes. Bring us to "something bad happens."

Write for ten more minutes. Bring us to "something worse happens."
If you did Exercise #1, where you wrote a scene with the tarot cards, you may find your scene fits into the story somewhere in this act (or another). You can put it in word for word if you like.

Next: A Draft: Act III

Eugen Osswald, illustration from The Valiant Little Tailor, 1925, via 50watts

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