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Hemingway, NaNoWrimo, and Writing Act 3
Episode 364th October 2022 • Writing Break • America's Editor
00:00:00 00:13:46

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We begin our discussion of Act 3 of a three-act book, and I share my professional opinion of NaNoWriMo. I also share a rare recording from Ernest Hemingway, which offers his opinion on writer organizations.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

"A Cafe In Monaco" by Scorehouse Media

"A Dreamy Slumber" by Tencher Music

"Bay Area Bop" by Q-Rock

"Happy Walk" by Simon Jomphe Lepine

"Vintage Funky Intro" by Jon Presstone


Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

Hallo. It is October. Next month is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. This is when writers around the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days. Even though this is intended to be a seat-of-the-pants endeavor, I know authors who begin prepping in September. Maybe you’ve been doing some NaNoWrimo prep work by mapping out your novel with me this season. If so, I promise you that I will have the basics of Act 3 wrapped up by November 1st so that you can take a complete outline of your next book to the NaNoWriMo starting line. Whether you’re a NaNoWriMo participant or you’re staunchly anti-NaNoWriMo, I have something special for you at the end of this episode.

The Writing Break cafe is open, so let’s find a table, and I’ll fill you in on some publishing news.

udio surpassed ebook sales in:

If you are looking for a bit of fun during the spooky season, Endless Ink Publishing House is running a short story writing contest. The genre is horror comedy, and your work should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words. Four winners will be announced. The prize for first place is $750, and second, third and fourth place will receive $150. You must be 18 years old to enter. The deadline to enter is October 21st. Best of all, there is no entrance fee.

There is a new book festival in New York City. The Museum of Jewish Heritage will be hosting the New York Jewish Book Festival on Sunday, December 11th. This one-day event will feature talks, panels, and author signings. The event is free to the public.

Links to these articles can be found in the show notes of this episode and on

Now, let’s head to an independent bookstore.

We are at Curious Fox in Berlin, Germany. What a great name for a bookshop. Curious Fox sells new and used English-language books. This shop is located in a lovingly remodeled cellar and features a beautiful mural by artist John Rooney just above the entrance (watch your head as you step inside). With light wood floors and bookshelves in varying muted colors, this bookstore is organized in neat aisles that make you want to take your time looking around.

So, let’s do just that and then check out an independent author.

ded it in their best books of:

”The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse has the whole village investigating the murder. With each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters…forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village….Hurricane Season takes place in a world saturated with mythology and violence―real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it’s a world that becomes more and more terrifying the deeper you explore it.”

Let’s take it to the register and then hang out on the front steps for today’s writing tips.

This season we have gone over the checkpoints for Act 1 and Act 2 of a three-act novel. I hope you managed to get those acts mapped out. Now, let’s get into Act 3.

Act 3 is where the story is resolved. In addition to the resolution of your main plot, all of your subplots need to be resolved. You don’t want to leave any loose ends.

Act 3 is also where the protagonist’s transformation is complete. After the Epiphany, your protagonist is ready to make the necessary inner changes in order to achieve the goal set out in Act 1. The protagonist has accepted that they need to change and are actively doing so. Sometimes this means that they are willing to let go of those earlier goals and walk away from what they thought they wanted.

Just like the first two acts, Act 3 has checkpoints. The checkpoints for Act 3 are: Plan, Climax, and Ending.

Let’s take a close look at the first checkpoint: the Plan.

The Plan is all plot. It is a plan of action, and the execution is something that your protagonist could not have done without recognizing their flaw, which happened in the Epiphany. Your protagonist might come up with several plans that don’t work. Maybe they first try to go it alone and fail because it’s something that cannot be done without allies. Or maybe the opposite is true. Perhaps the allies initially set out with the protagonist, but in the end it is something that the protagonist must do alone. Those are just two examples. There are many reasons why a plan might not work, and it is also possible to write just one plan that works out on the first try.

Note that if you're writing a tragedy, none of the plans will work because your protagonist did not change in the Epiphany.

Now, it’s time to plan out the Plan.

Write a single sentence that describes the Plan, then make a list of the scenes needed to get through the writing of the Plan, writing just enough words to remember what each scene is about.

The Plan can be short, sometimes even one scene long. The winning streak is the Climax. Once you head into victory, don’t give the protagonist any more major failures. We’ll talk about that next week.

And now, I have something special to share with you on the Overthinking Couch, so refresh your drink and get settled in.

For many years, I have over thought about whether NaNoWriMo is a good idea. My final conclusion is, whatever gets people to write is a good idea. However, I do think NaNoWriMo’s website and numerous resources can be a bit distracting for the creative mind, and a tight deadline might feel wrong for some authors. I enjoy encouraging NaNoWrimo participants, as I enjoy encouraging all authors. If NaNoWriMo is not for you, that’s okay, you’re not alone. In fact, I have a special recording for you to listen to today.


Afterward, Hemingway recorded himself reading his speech. And I will be playing that for you momentarily. He was in Cuba when he read it, and if you listen closely, you can hear sounds of life in the background, such as dogs barking and doors opening and closing. In typical Hemingway fashion, there is not a wasted word in the entire speech. The impression I get is that Hemingway would not have participated in NaNoWriMo, but he would have understood why some authors do.

Ernest Hemingway:

No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the Prize can accept it other than with humility. There is no need to list these writers. Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and his conscience.

It would be impossible for me to ask the Ambassador of my country to read a speech in which a writer said all of the things which are in his heart. Things may not be immediately discernible in what a man writes, and in this sometimes he is fortunate; but eventually they are quite clear and by these and the degree of alchemy that he possesses he will endure or be forgotten.

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with good luck, he will succeed.

How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.

I have spoken too long for a writer. A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it. Again I thank you.

Rosemi Mederos:

And I thank you for listening. As always, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at or contact us at




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