Act Two Hell

I am in act two hell.

You start out with such fire and confidence and vigor. Your characters come alive. They hold your hand and lead you through all the set up scenes, sprinkling potential conflicts like breadcrumbs along the way. The end of act one comes naturally. You feel so good about the piece, you want to schedule a reading, cast your actors, think about where you want it to premiere.

And then it’s time to finish the darned thing.

Act two inspiration is a bit slower. Somehow, the tension seems a little deflated. Like the audience had one glass of wine too many during the intermission. Wake up, playwright! You meander around, hoping for inspiration. And wake up in a cold sweat, convinced that Act one is totally boring, uninspired, stupid. You have the urge to completely tear it apart. Fix it. Tinker with everything.

This is the devil whispering in your ear.

Or, as my Skype writing buddy in Omaha puts it, “Why do plays need second acts anyway? Lazy audience. Why can’t they just work it out themselves?” And at this point in the writing process, you tell yourself, they’ll probably do a helluva lot better than you.

How to escape these many circles of hell? I’ll share my laundry list of tricks tomorrow.

About Kitty Felde

Award-winning public radio journalist, writer, and TEDx speaker Kitty Felde hosts the Book Club for Kids podcast, named by The Times of London as one of the top 10 kidcasts in the world. The Los Angeles native created the Washington bureau for Southern California Public Radio and covered Capitol Hill for nearly a decade, explaining how government works to grownups. Now she explains it to kids in a series of mystery novels and podcasts called The Fina Mendoza Mysteries. Kitty was named LA Radio Journalist of the Year three times by the LA Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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