Writing in the Fog


At last week’s writing critique group, one of our members brought in this quote. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”  — E. L. Doctorow

It was applicable to what I am working on right now—the third book in my Caribbean romantic suspense series. It’s been ten years since the last book (Circle of Dreams) and it often feels like I am driving in the fog. So it was heartening to hear a writer like E.L. Doctorow remind me that the whole book can be written that way. Then perhaps the sun will illuminate the second draft.

I now know how the third book ends, but getting there is still kinda foggy. I just have to keep writing.

The Energy Surge Tells You When You’ve Got It Right

When Laura and I had our phone consultation with Dara Marks about our Santa Diaries script there was a moment when we were discussing how the movie script would end. It had to do with that “it can’t get any worse” moment. We brainstormed briefly and when we said, “Will (the main character) actually goes back to Los Angeles” we felt a surge of energy that was palpable. Dara commented on the difference in our voices and asked us to pay attention to this in the future.

Two days ago when we were working towards the ending of the script we were struggling to figure out WHY Will would go back to LA. It had to be something momentous. More brainstorming. And then the energy surge and we knew his motivation.

Pay attention to your energy when you write. You’ll feel the difference when the story goes where it wants to go, not just where you are trying to push it.

Yesterday, when we were working, Laura remembered a movie she had seen called Doc Hollywood. She thought it had some parallels to the arc of our story. We searched on line for the script but couldn’t find it.

Doc Hollywood

Turns out the we could rent it for 24 hours on Amazon, so we watched it on my computer. We were able to track the places in the story where the first and second turning points happen – when transformation begins. We could tell that the page numbers in our script were right on target, especially at the climax – the last five pages.

It was helpful to see how the movie handled multiple characters who had just a few scenes and minimal dialogue. These characters were memorable because they were very different and their dialogue smart and funny. Doc Hollywood is not the world’s best movie, but we learned from watching it. Our movie script will be better because we took the time.

We then went to lunch at Town Dock in St. Michaels and made an outline of what we needed to change in our script. We came back to my house and slugged in the sequence. Today we’ll begin to flesh out those changes, and in the process we’ll keep ourselves open to creative energy surges, no matter where they come from.