Tag Archives: playwrighting

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.