Act One, Part Seven: The Final Scene Sequence and Transition into Act Two

Here’s the thing about first acts: they’re a bitch to write. They’re loaded with back story and infodump that you have to make into the now of the story, you have to twist your narrative into a pretzel to foreshadow any character you can’t get into a scene, you have to start not only your main conflict but any subplots you’ve got going, and you have to do it all while moving your plot from the beginning where the stability is shattered to the first turning point where things get much, much worse and the story hits a climactic turning point that swings the entire narrative in a new direction.   And you have to do that in 33,000 words or less that are never boring and continually escalate as the stakes rise.

All of which means that worst part of first acts, which are already hell to write, is that last part, the chunk between the crisis and the climax/turning point. Welcome to Part Seven.

So what I had to write here was action that would irrevocably convince Nita that the supernatural was real, that Nick really was going to be the Devil, and that things on the island were much, much worse that either of them had thought. The good news is, almost all of the set-up is over by this point, and I just have to hurl the act toward its climax. I think this is still too long, and I have a nasty feeling that Nita refuses for too long to accept the truth, but since it’s time to move to a paper edit and then let this act go, I putting up here as is.

I’ll get the post about the paper edit up later this week with that revision (ONE MORE TIME) replacing all the truck draft pages, but by now I’m sure you’re all so sick of this, that there’s no reason to keep reading the revisions.

Still, it should be illuminating to read the first scene in the first discovery draft and then the first scene in the paper edit draft. That always blows my mind because of course I always think my first drafts are alternately sheer genius and total crap, depending on the time of day. And then there’ll be the way the first scene reads in the published book . . .

The purpose behind all of this, besides motivating me to finish the damn act, was to show (a) how I draft a book and (b) why it takes me so long to write one so people would quit complaining.   (Also, I’m old, cut me a break.)  I’m pretty sure I accomplished (a) with this series of posts, so I’m satisfied my Argh work is done.

The book, however, is not. Back to work.  Oh, and here’s Part Seven.


19 thoughts on “Act One, Part Seven: The Final Scene Sequence and Transition into Act Two

  1. Whining for the win!
    This scene sure as…shooting…upped the stakes.
    Nita came around fast enough, in my opinion.
    And I am sitting here with a huge grin.

    As always, thank you for sharing and teaching. This is the best ridealong ever.

  2. Hi Jenny, I really really hope the rest of the book gets published soon. I’m not asking for myself you understand, but as a reader. I think this book is going to be one of your best. So many people who don’t read your blog will be happy to see a Crusie in the bookshop.

    1. Well, I have to WRITE it first.
      Plus there are another three thousand rewrites to do.
      So it’ll be awhile . . .

  3. Loved Nita’s coming-around scene. Showing, not telling. Nita once dating Rich, nice touch. Even nicer, the way Rich blew his cover.
    You’ve been doing some plotting. And then writing the hell out of the ending of this first part.

  4. I don’t think it took too long for her to accept it. It’s only been about a day, and it’s reasonable that it would take something extreme to convince a person. The disappearing bodies and looking green can be explained away; it had to be something without another explanation. Unless they’re disposed to believe or actively looking for proof like Mort. If it’s a character that doesn’t even entertain the possibility of the supernatural, it takes something stronger. There’s really no reason for her to take Nick’s word about being dead and the next Devil, so I don’t think most readers will expect her to accept it all quickly.

  5. Nita has spent a lifetime rationalizing her abilities.

    Being told or even seeing a green demon body disappear wouldn’t be enough to change her lifelong belief that the island is just a deomon themed tourist trap. It had to be something like an not-yet-dead demon and a smiting that she saw when sober. At least, that’s what it’d take for me. And I’m mostly reasonable. 😉

  6. Please, may we have some more?

    I’m in love with this book as much as I love Temptation and Faking It. When it’s done I will buy multiple copies.

  7. I’ve ignored my day as much as I can, so I can’t sit and read the draft just yet. But I did want to respond to (b) – quit complaining. Um, sorry? It’s really hard. You write great books. We do appreciate all the work that goes into writing the great books. I think I have read practically everything you’ve written, and never once did I think, “jesus, what were they thinking to let her publish that? It’s so not on the level of some of her other books.” I have thought it about nearly every other author (nearly, just in case I’m forgetting someone). So the amount of work and thought are truly appreciated.

    All that being said…seriously, what do you need to make this book happen? I can ship things. 😉

  8. This is a general comment on all of these posts, but thank you for all of this, even though it means I have gotten none of the many things I need to do today done. I will try to be back later with some more helpful comments, but I just wanted to say how much I love the warmth and community of your story worlds. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I want to tell you how much I appreciate the work you do to make your first act sing! I listened to a book this past week where the author didn’t have the same set of rules for the first act. In the first 3 chapters, the most action happened in the prologue. Yup, a prologue. Chapter 1 had a small bit of plot but a lot of useless details and a Checkov’s bottle (a term I know because of this book & scupper). Chapters 2&3 were complete info dumps communicated as a backflash. It was painful. At one point I stopped the recording (43 minutes in) and asked my hubby if this was still all in response to the officer’s question, why was she there. Yup. Really, turns out the mystery took up about 15% of the book, the romance sub-sub plot about 10%, and the real story was about New York and coffee, which made me sad as I was expecting a cozy mystery.

    Reading your blog has educated me so I can’t enjoy fluff writing anymore. I’m way too aware of things like show don’t tell, start where the action starts, and no prologues. ?

    So, if it takes you another year or 3 to finish the book, we’ll wait impatiently but will also know that it will be worth it.

    1. You’re welcome.
      It’s a problem with people who study story; it’s really hard to get lost in it when you know so much about it.

  10. Okay, totally worth staying up until 2:30 am despite needing to go to work later today. Thank you!

  11. Can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait.
    I mean, I can, but damn, this is gonna be good!

  12. Damn, damn, day-yum. This is so great, and I’m so glad you decided to write this. I’m too busy wondering what will come next to be of any critical use at all. Thank you!

  13. Three questions:
    1) How does the Mayor know the Hell to Earth time conversion ratio?
    2) How do Nick, Rab and Dag get to Earth? Do they need a hellgate too? If so, where did they put it?
    3) If Satan went to Earth a generation ago, then surely he knew about the hellgates then (including where they were) so why did he bother to send Nick to investigate?

    1. 1. Obviously, the Mayor knows all kinds of stuff that Nita doesn’t; he’s been the main governing force on the island for almost forty years. I put that in there to show that the Mayor doesn’t just believe in the supernatural, he knows the supernatural.

      2. Devils are the only ones authorized to open Hellgates, but Satan gave Nick the power to open one any time he wants. He sends agents to close unauthorized gates, which is how he lost Sadiel and Forcus. He brought Dag and Rab with him; once he opens a gate, anybody can get through until he closes it. Which is why he closes them right away. How did somebody open an unauthorized gate? That’s something else he has to find out, although since only Devils can open a gate or give somebody the temporary power to open them, the suspect list is pretty narrow, three, to be exact.

      3. Satan knew about the hellgate he opened and closed. It’s the illegal gates that Nick investigates, along with fugitive demons, recalcitrant spirits, and a host of other things that will become clear in the next 65,000 words. We’ve hardly scratched the surface of the mysteries on Demon Island.
      Patience, grasshopper (g).

  14. From reading the comments it is clear that I have missed new content. All the comments about knowing who Nita’s father is, what the Mayor knows, etc. I’ve clicked on the link to Part 7 and get a message that “the page can’t be found” and no live links under Works in Progress. Someone help! I’m going crazy not knowing!

    1. Patience, grasshopper. I’m moving things over from the website. I’ll do the latest Nita stuff next, but I do it when I take a break from writing, so it’ll be a little while.

      The new WIP link is at the top of Argh now.


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