Blocked by fear of writer’s block?

This is weird. I’m not actually blocked. I know exactly what comes next in my story, and it should actually be a fun scene to write. I like writing action scenes, and this is the first time we really see what a demon can do in a fight. Basically, he’s going to wipe the floor with Daniel. And what’s better than beating the crap out of your main character, really?

Only here’s the thing. I’m terrified of what comes after the scenes I’m writing now. Here’s the outline I have so far. It should look at least vaguely familiar to folks who read Between Heaven and Hell.

  • ACT 1
  • Daniel helps at a wreck, freaks out when he sees a man with a fatal injury walk away and gets himself arrested
  • Police interrogate Daniel, find out why he indentified himself as a doctor; Daniel escapes en route to psychiatric eval; cops “make the call” as Daniel “fits the profile”
  • We meet Susan, a right wing Christian blogger
  • Daniel investigates the strange life of Hendriks, the dead man
  • Susan looks for Daniel
  • We meet Jeff Frankel, a crazy old Viet Nam vet
  • Baterel meets with senior demon, told to kill Cho, but make him disappear so the police think he’s still out there
  • Daniel goes to the library to search the Google, finds Susan’s article, and contacts her.
  • Jack gets a lead on Daniel
  • Susan meets Daniel
  • Jeff arrives in DC
  • Susan decides to help Daniel
  • Jack finds Daniel; Daniel and Susan go on the run
  • Daniel meets Jeff at the Arlington Days Inn
  • Batarel attacks; Jeff rescues Daniel and Susan from Batarel
  • Batarel kills the motel manager in frustration
  • Jeff establishes that “angels and demons as flesh and blood immortals in the granddaddy of all secret societies” is an existing meme, attributes what they saw to that
  • Jack investigates the motel manager’s death and the carnage from the fight
  • ACT 2
  • Daniel and Jack kill Batarel while Susan films it
  • ACT3
  • Jack changes sides
  • Our heroes meet Uriel
  • Demons kill Daniel’s family
  • Susan gets a copy of the database
  • Jack takes Daniel, Susan and Jeff to Iraq
  • Jeff meets with Mullah Hassan Mohammad, the keeper of the lost gospel
  • Mohammad shows Daniel the lost gospel and the angelic helmet, an ancient Sumerian artifact that seems to contain microcircuitry
  • Demons attack the mosque (to prevent the gospel from getting out?)
  • Our heroes escape from Iraq
  • Susan publishes her proof
  • The media runs with it, and public opinion wakes up to the immortal threat
  • Jack recruits Daniel into a force to combat the demons

Acts 1 & 3 are strong and make sense. I’ve always been good at beginnings and endings. But the middle, that’s a problem. Act 2 should be the meat of the book, all the complications and redirection that makes a novel so rich and enjoyable. It should also, in general, be roughly half the page count, 50% compared to 25% each for Acts 1 and 3. So the fact that my Act 2 basically consists of “HERE BE MONSTYRS” is… alarming? terrifying? scaring me out of my gorram mind?

I know, in broad strokes, and we’re taking rollers here, what has to happen in Act 2. Batarel, my angry, implacable, immortal demon, keeps trying to kill Daniel and failing, while Daniel tries to both capture Batarel and avoid being captured by Jack, who is now an FBI agent in this version of the story. So the first half or so of Act 2 should be a merry chase, with both Batarel and Jack chasing Daniel, Jeff and Susan. One of the biggest hit movies of my formative years was “Cannonball Run,” so I should have an intuitive sense for chase stories. It could be all I’m missing is to visualize Daniel as Dom DeLuise. (this is probably a bad idea)

At roughly the halfway point, Daniel has to turn the tables on the demon and become the chaser, or at least start fighting back. At some point in there Jack has to see Batarel for what he is, and realize there’s a lot more going on here than just a terrorist fugitive on the run. And then after Daniel figures out how to kill a demon, Jack has to arrive at that final battle between Daniel and Batarel and join Daniel’s side. I’m not sure how Daniel’s going to figure out how to kill a demon, which was explained by the lost gospel in the original book, given that the Archangel Uriel doesn’t show up and give them the database and the location of the gospel now until after they prove themselves worthy by killing Batarel, but I’m willing to accept that the story will me that. There was absolutely nothing in my original outline for Homeworld, my Mars novel, that suggested the characters fly to Kazakhstan and buy an old Soviet nuclear sub reactor on the black market, but when the story called for one and they couldn’t get one from NASA, well, a character’s gotta do what a character’s gotta do. So I can take a leap of faith on that. My characters have proven time and again that they’re smarter than me, so I can trust that.

But I still have to have some idea of where they’re going. Let’s see, based on my ramblings above, I have:

  • ACT 1
  • Daniel helps at a wreck, freaks out when he sees a man with a fatal injury walk away and gets himself arrested
  • Police interrogate Daniel, find out why he indentified himself as a doctor; Daniel escapes en route to psychiatric eval; cops “make the call” as Daniel “fits the profile”
  • We meet Susan, a right wing Christian blogger
  • Daniel investigates the strange life of Hendriks, the dead man
  • Susan looks for Daniel
  • We meet Jeff Frankel, a crazy old Viet Nam vet
  • Baterel meets with senior demon, told to kill Cho, but make him disappear so the police think he’s still out there
  • Daniel goes to the library to search the Google, finds Susan’s article, and contacts her.
  • Jack gets a lead on Daniel
  • Susan meets Daniel
  • Jeff arrives in DC
  • Susan decides to help Daniel
  • Jack finds Daniel; Daniel and Susan go on the run
  • Daniel meets Jeff at the Arlington Days Inn
  • Batarel attacks; Jeff rescues Daniel and Susan from Batarel
  • Batarel kills the motel manager in frustration
  • Jeff establishes that “angels and demons as flesh and blood immortals in the granddaddy of all secret societies” is an existing meme, attributes what they saw to that
  • Jack investigates the motel manager’s death and the carnage from the fight
  • ACT 2
  • Daniel and Co. go on the run
  • Jack chases Daniel
  • Batarel chases Daniel
  • Daniel eludes Jack
  • Daniel goes on the offensive
  • Jack sees evidence that Batarel isn’t human
  • Daniel discovers how Batarel could be killed
  • Jack finds Daniel just as Daniel attacks Batarel
  • Daniel and Jack kill Batarel while Susan films it
  • ACT3
  • Jack changes sides
  • Our heroes meet Uriel
  • Demons kill Daniel’s family
  • Susan gets a copy of the database
  • Jack takes Daniel, Susan and Jeff to Iraq
  • Jeff meets with Mullah Hassan Mohammad, the keeper of the lost gospel
  • Mohammad shows Daniel the lost gospel and the angelic helmet, an ancient Sumerian artifact that seems to contain microcircuitry
  • Demons attack the mosque (to prevent the gospel from getting out?)
  • Our heroes escape from Iraq
  • Susan publishes her proof
  • The media runs with it, and public opinion wakes up to the immortal threat
  • Jack leaves the FBI to join a UN anti-demon task force
  • Jack recruits Daniel

Act 2 is still thin, and I’m obviously missing some scenes, but at least’s it’s coherent, and it follows causality. I can see how the characters get from A to Z, rather than A to G, then a whole bunch of hieroglyphics, then Q to Z. It’s not perfect, but it might be enough to overcome my screamin’ willies (Nelson being the most disturbing) and get me back to writing.

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