It’s the worst when you are actually starting a new project. I always have this feeling that this is the book/script that is going to prove I’m a poseur, I have no talent and I’ve just been faking it for all these years. But if I can get down that first line then it’s all okay. More lines follow and then you have a page, and then you’re off to the races.
But it isn’t reserved for just the opening lines anymore. I’m starting to find that each new chapter is like a mini-emotional crises now. I know what has to go in that chapter, what has to happen, but how it’s actually executed is requiring more analysis. I’m not sure if this is because I’ve gone seriously back to screenwriting, but I think that might be part of it. How you move from scene to scene is critical in a script, and also easier than it is in a book. Just like in comics you can use that black space to hint at things that may need to be addressed in a novel. And when you have to spell out the transitions the action can slow down. It’s also hard because as the writer I know what is happening so when I explain things it seems boring to me. But if I leave it out my ever helpful crit group goes, “Hey, how did he get out of that well, anyway?” I realize it may be dull to me, but to a new reader it’s not. I try to keep that in mind, but sometimes I forget.
And the agony doesn’t end after you’ve got that first line. Sooner or later you have to face the last line. The thing that ties it all up, and puts a period on the book/story/script, and it needs to encapsulate the theme of the story your reader or viewer has just experienced without being too on-the-nose. It has to provide closure and a sense of satisfaction.
Maybe that is why I love this career so much. Just like riding dressage I never stop learning and analyzing, and I never feel like I have complete command of these skills.