Writing Tip 11. Choices, Choices.

I’ve read successful stories that skimped on the darkest hour and the showdown. I’ve enjoyed books that were slow to offer Act One’s promise. But, ask a reader to miss out on the enjoyment of Act 2 character-developing adventures? Never.

Impossible choices.

The hard and often impossible choices characters make in Act Two and throughout the story, keep us reading. We are invested in characters that grow inwardly as well as outwardly.

So, here’s a question for Act Two: Are the skills and allies your hero is gaining a result of simply struggling against obstacles? Or are they achieved after making difficult choices in that struggle? The former makes for a great synopsis, but the latter creates an unforgettable read.

Check for difficult choices in Act Two.

Often acquisitions editors stop reading at the beginning of Act Two. If they have the time to write and tell you why, they’ll offer something like “the inner voice failed” or “the momentum slowed.” That often means that character development needs strengthening, and checking for hard choices is a reliable way to master that.

Act One gives us the promise of genre. Act Two fulfills that promise, as the hero struggles through to the darkest hour at the end of Act Two, and on to Act Three’s final showdown.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and is Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.

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