Celebrating the completion of Act I
Yesterday, we reached a huge milestone in the writing process for book one: we completed Act I!
Our novel is using a three-act format, and we’re marking the end of Act I as “the decision from which the protagonist cannot return.” Up to this point, we’ve set up the main characters, the motivation, the world, and the conflict. The stakes have been risen, and they’ll only continue to rise in Act II, which will end just as we’re gearing up for the book’s climax.
We’re celebrating this victory, because in many ways, Act I is the most important part of the book. If we can keep our readers excited and engaged through the first 30% of the text, we know they’ll be along for the ride for the rest. That means we need to get this part right, even more so than the rest of the book.
If fiction writing were just about having characters talk to each other and doing things, it wouldn’t be so complicated. In fact, that’s how we got our start writing, and it’s why we feel we’re strong character writers. We feel confident our readers will love our characters, understand their motivations, and recognize their voices. But when it comes to things like world building and plotting, we have a lot more starts and stops. We intuitively know when it “feels right,” but we’re not always good at diagnosing what’s wrong along the way.
At this point, five years in, we’re on our second draft of the book. The first draft was largely an exploration of characters. We’re continuing to flesh out the world in this draft, and the plot is finally coming together. The big picture stuff is set, and the small picture stuff is keeping us on our toes, which means we’re staying surprised and enjoying the journey. Here comes Act II!
As a reader, what makes a book most meaningful to you: characters, worldbuilding, or plot?