The Second Act

There is nothing like the feeling of adding twelve pages to the screenplay you’ve been stuck in for the past few weeks. Though I expect the feeling to be as fleeting as the rest of my moments of lucidity, it encourages me enough that I may sustain my self-confidence that I can for once finish a lengthy project. Most of the past month or two, I have either ignored my working screenplay altogether, or stared at the computer screen, unsure of how to get through the vastness of the middle so that I can finally reach the plotpoints near the end that I know I can write.

Nobody sufficiently warned me that writing the second act of a movie screenplay would be not just twice as hard as writing the beginning, but five, maybe ten, times harder. When I was outlining the scene list I was initially extremely proud of myself for being able to envision a plot that could span the duration of a full-length movie. When I began writing the actual scenes, I was thoroughly impressed with myself for making it so easy to simply add details and make the scenes come alive, and flow from one to another naturally. Then everything changed. Once the introductions to the characters and the plot were set in place, I realized that I had no idea how to get from the end of the first act to the beginning of the third and final act. My outline gave me clues and scene ideas, but in practice, I realized I had not considered nearly enough scenes to throw in there and make it all interesting to anyone living outside of my own mind.

I had hoped when I had such a fun and easy time writing the beginning of the screenplay that it would be a quick project. That then I could take my time revising it, having professors review it for me, and then before I even knew it, I could be submitting it to agencies. Funny what the excitedly clouded mind will convince you is realistic. No, the going has not been easy since I’ve decided to continue this project on my own throughout the summer. And I no longer expect it to ever be easy. But it’s better that way. What is there worth earning that is easy to attain?

Constant vigilance. That is one thing I’ve learned from J.K. Rowling’s Mad-Eye Moody. Constant vigilance may be extremely frustrating at times–those times when I think I can never overcome the hurdles of writing on my own, without my professors or writing groups, or those times when I think maybe my stories aren’t actually worth telling, if I can’t even find the words to tell them. But it sure does pay off when the try after try after try after try finally benefits you with concrete progress.

I hope one day I can look back on this post and say, “See, look where I started. And now look where I am,” as I wave my hands about a room full of large manuscripts and published books, Oscar trophies and checks from the greatest production companies in the country. One day I hope to have fans who will think as they read this, “So this is what it felt like to write her first movie. So this is how my favorite movie was before it was anything.”

Back to making my dreams happen.