Writing Comes First

Writing with a partner requires compromises about timing. You write when you can. This Memorial Day weekend Laura and I worked Sunday and Monday afternoons. When Laura called me on Sunday morning and said she could work that afternoon, I was busy working on a gardening project. I really didn’t want to stop, but I knew it would be several days before we got another opportunity. She is going to be busy on Tuesday and I’m unavailable Wednesday and Thursday this week. The garden project could wait.

We have to work when we can. Our husbands were working on their own projects this weekend, so didn’t feel abandoned, but honestly, they’re used to it by now.

Laura and I have been writing together for five years. When we were writing our novel (Big Skye Ranch) we worked separately and together. Writing movie, TV scripts, and plays is another matter – it must be done together. We almost always work at my house. If it’s during the week, Laura likes to get out of her day job office. She grabs a burger and a diet coke and heads down the St. Michaels road.

Since Laura knows the formatting for scripts, she is the one on the computer. I sit at the table and we discuss dialogue before she types it in. Sometimes I am on my laptop looking up a question that needs an answer before we can move on. Sometimes I sit and knit while we work.

The project we are currently working on for Khris Baxter is coming along. We are about three quarters through the first draft. The outline Khris provided us has helped. He also recommended a book about the subject which we both read. I noted pages from the book on the outline which has made going back to look at the original story easy. We don’t have to make up any of the events for this script, but we do have to figure out what would be the most interesting visual situation for a movie and place the scene there.

Getting authentic dialogue from the 1950’s is something of a challenge. One of the main characters is American but went to boarding school in England which adds another twist. Did they say, “brilliant,” or “gobsmacked” in 1954? The book I bought recently, Flappers 2 Rappers, was no help – but then the subtitle was American Youth Slang, not American Upper Middle-class Slang.

After working three hours yesterday we found a good stopping point and will be back to work in a couple of days. We have to write when we can, and in a writing partnership you need to accommodate two schedules and be flexible. The choice isn’t really that hard. Writing comes first.

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