Tag Archives: Act II

15.33: The Long, Dark Second Act of the Soul

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

Many Writing Excuses listeners have asked us how we muscle through writing second acts, those big, chonky “middles” of our stories. In this episode we attempt to provide answers.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson. The title of this episode is a nod to the second Dirk Gently novel from Douglas Adams.


Take a favorite book, movie, or whatever: attempt to identify where the second act begins and ends. Then make a list of what you love about the second act. Now take that list, and map it onto your OWN second act, in order to build a second act that you love.

Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett

Writing Excuses 5.13: Writing the Second Book

How do you write the second book? Zombie John Brown joins us for a discussion of that second novel.

(Note: As of this writing, John Brown remains NOT DEAD. Not UNDEAD, mind you. NOT DEAD. John D. Brown, author, is alive and well, and his nose is healing up quite nicely.)

We’ve got three possible approaches to take. The first is “your second unpublished novel.” The second is “your second published book.” The third is “the second book in a series.” All three of these are worth discussing, so of course we give the second one a wide miss.

We start with that second unpublished novel. This is the book where you move past the momentary validation of finishing the first novel, and sit down at the keyboard again. The lessons learned during the first novel are applied quickly. We talk about some of those lessons, and how they applied to each of us.

We then talk about the second book in a series. We look at what works well in sequels, in second acts, and subsequent installments in an ongoing series. We talk about the dangers of sequel-itis, especially as Hollywood suffers from it, and how we can avoid falling into these traps.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Good Guy, by Dean Koontz, narrated by Richard Ferrone

Writing Prompt: The growth on your nose… is it an alien, is it occult, or are you going to tell a love story?

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