Usually Act One is the hard part to get right and then the rest of the acts fall into place, but this time Act Two is doing so much heavy lifting that it ballooned to 44,000 words. Should be about 28,000, although that’s not happening. Still, a chunk of this has to go (about 14,000 words maybe?)
A very long time ago (twenty years maybe?) I read a manuscript by a friend. Well, I read the first 160 pages before I gave up. I handed it back to her and said, “I quit reading at page 160 because nothing new was happening, it was the same damn thing over and over.” And she said, “But that’s when it gets really good.”
I think that’s tattooed on my brain now because, of course, I say the same thing when people suggest that every word of my first act is not genius, GENIUS I tell you. But I really thought of it this time because I was going through Act 3 and thinking, “Okay, now this is getting good.” That’s only 84,000 words into the novel. I’m sure readers will stick with it that long to get to the good stuff.
I read a good YA, Mostly Straight, this week and a strangely unsettling NYT bestseller. Still not sure why the bestseller so unsettled me. That’s the only word I can think of to describe the feeling of “something’s off here.” Not giving the title of the book because it may just be my reading biases since the book was well-written. I went back and reread Heyer’s False Colours as brain bleach, and ended up skimming large chunks of it, possibly because I’ve read it at least half a dozen times already. I think once you get past six readings on a book, you’re basically doing the good parts version anyway.
So what did you read this week?
(And in an unrelated note, big thank you to everybody who’s giving me feedback on Act One. Never apologize for beta reading, I need honest criticism and you’re all giving it to me. Absolutely nothing to apologize for because I’m grateful for all of it.)
I’m reading your comments and not commenting because I’m still in the zone where I’d probably start justifying which is just wrong, and I’d planned on doing the discussion post on Monday since I figured most people would take the weekend and I’d need that time to figure everything out, BUT . . .
Lots of you are mentioning that you know I need the Hotels later. I do. BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER. If they’re a problem, they go.
In every book writing process, there comes a time when you absolutely cannot see where you’ve gone wrong. And, friends, we have reached that time with Nita’s book.
I’m still rewriting Acts Three and Four, but Act One is ready for beta reads. And since I’ve posted earlier drafts on here before, I’m giving it to any of you who care to read 42,000 words of too long fictional first act that you probably have read too many times already. (For those of you new to this, a first act must introduce the protagonist and introduce or foreshadow the main conflict, preferably on the first page, introduce all the major characters, foreshadow the antagonist, introduce all the subplots, and end with a turning point that spins the plot in a new direction and makes the story new. Backward and in high heels.)
So I need fresh eyes, aka beta readers that are not me, to look at this act. I know some of you have read a thousand drafts of this already, so “fresh” is stretching it, but any help you can give is appreciated. And if you can’t, that’s fine, I’ll just sit here in the dark alone.
I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out on my own (it’s #68 in the happiness book) because when you think about it, it’s obvious: Doing things we’re good at makes us happy.
Success usually makes us happy, but I think even more the process of succeeding, doing something we’re confident about, making something we’re skilled at and enjoy doing, has to achieve something like a state of flow, the sense that where we are and what we’re doing is exactly where and what we were meant to be. Which of course puts Working Wednesdays in a whole new context. Doing what we’re good at is good for us (assuming we enjoy it, just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it).