"If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act." --Billy Wilder
I said in my last entry that I'd talk about sequel planning in this one, and I almost didn't, because things were going so badly. I had this idea of where the next book would go; I even had a good title. I rewrote the ending and added an epilogue to properly lead into the next book, to wrap up everything with a few more things going bad for Our Heroes, both completing the tale and setting things up for the next one.
Then, whenever I sat down to work on the next book's plot, it was like throwing myself against a brick wall. Granted, I don't think I've actually run into a brick wall since elementary school, but at least I know it's a valid metaphor. And as the quote above says, the problem was in the first act: no matter how much I wanted it to be otherwise, for the third act to happen, the entire first act of the book had to be one big training montage. And that just plain doesn't work.
At least, not unless you can find a way to make the book play cheesy yet inspiring 80s music, and that would get old after a few chapters.
So last night, after yet another session of staring at WordPerfect and grumbling, I decided to scrap it all and come up with something different. This is something I've been doing more and more with my recent plotting - I'll decide to do a different take on a work in progress, or I'll get frustrated and try to come at it from a different direction. And so far, what comes second has always been much, much better.
I'm only a day into this new plot, only have a page of notes and plans, just some things to establish the setting and some new characters. The story happens in a place in this world that I didn't know existed until today, yet it makes perfect sense for this place to exist. It allows me to expand on all kinds of things from the first book and to keep a part of the story going that my pre-readers seem to think was over. (Bwa ha ha.) And most importantly, it'll lead to some absolutely awesome scenes that I can't wait to write.
It kind of amazes me that I almost didn't write this, that I almost kept running into that wall. But now I have a new tower to build. And it can still lead perfectly into a third book.
...yes, of course I'm plotting a trilogy. It's fantasy, what did you expect? :P