Have a LOT of Faith–in your personal drill sergeant

While finishing DISTORTION, I wrote a “boot camp” blog for suspense authors — actually for myself. Complete with drill sergeant, it sort of bullied me into writing when I doubted my ability. So here’s the post that best suits today as I write in the third act of PARADOX, ~Lucie   PS: The “window of opportunity” and “one-way glass” refer to a plot point at the end of Act 2 that propels the Lead into the final act, sort of a point of no return.

All the artwork was from the U.S. Army Online Gallery, this one by SFC Peter T. Varisano. Click for a full gallery of his work
All the artwork was from the U.S. Army Online Gallery, this one by SFC Peter T. Varisano. Click for a full gallery of his work

Have a lotta faith–in your characters and your ability. That’s right, YOURS, Private.

So you finished writing your 2nd Window of Opportunity and launched your readers into ACT 3. If you didn’t, TOUGH SHIT. I don’t have TIME for your ass today. Plant yourself in front of a computer and write some one-way glass.

The rest of you–what’s next? You have so much to accomplish in Act 3, so many loose ends to tie up. Plus you want to get to that big ending, right? It can be overwhelming. I have two writer friends who both have started multiple books only to stop writing here–in the third act. They don’t believe in their ability to finish it “right.”


Instead of stressing the details and plotting in your mind, I want to suggest that you just write. Sit at a keyboard or take a notebook and pens to some fave spot–and write the third act.

Okay, maybe you can’t finish it today–but SPRINT toward the end like Usain Bolt in Bejing. No planning allowed.

I believe that if you know what’s going to happen, if you already have plotted the end, then your readers will know too. Everything from that 2nd window through the end of your book needs to FLOW like a raging river rapid. No, it doesn’t have to explode, you don’t have to have violence, but you do HAVE to sweep your readers into a fast current of events. The best way to achieve that current is to write it in free-flowing prose. A prose that follows only the whims of your characters and needs of your story, not some intellectual plan.

Just know that anything that doesn’t get tied up in the end either wasn’t important or can be fixed in revision.

And write the third act from your characters actions and the DEMANDS of your narrative–yes, I said it’s demands. The STORY has kidnapped you. It has imprisoned your mind for months. What does it want to say before it will let you go? Where is it wanting to take you and your Lead?

Sounds a bit insane–well, writing in general is a rather demented task. I say in Act 3–which might end up having an Act 4–you just follow the preposterous path of your story and characters. They will tell you where to go. Are you listening? Whatever path they take you down is RIGHT.

Have a little faith–no, a lot.

A personal drill sergeant has to have BITE. Mine could give out punishments like the Cockroach Crawl, GIMME FIFTY, and The long Run. All writing related, they were tough, lock-yourself-in-a-room assignments that I really did. More than once. When I didn’t complete my task. I plan to bring back the drill sergeant for my first revision in January.


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