Thursday, September 17, 2009


This was the first morning of fogs which happen frequently in my part of British Columbia. The morning news had shots like the one I've got here and many of their traffic cameras showed nothing but grey. When I was driving my children to school this morning the only clue I had about other vehicles was the gleam of approaching headlights. Traffic lights were obscured. Fog was swirling around the high school transforming the landscape into the perfect setting for an old-fashioned ghost story.

Writers know about fogs as we all experience them from time to time. Where am I going? Who is here with me? Am I really the only person in the world?

Here are my ways of coping with the fog:

  1. Look for the streetlights as they will always guide you home. A good outline will get you to the ending every time. Guaranteed. It might only be the end of a chapter, but even a small victory is a victory.
  2. Pedestrians appear out of nowhere. Who is this character who has just shown up and insists upon speaking? Trust that they appeared for a purpose. It might only be to convey one piece of information and then they disappear again, but listen first. They may force you to look more closely at a plot point that you might have just driven through.
  3. Be aware of other vehicles. You're not the only person traveling this road. We may be alone in our own cars (or houses) but we all know the road. Take comfort that there are others out there. It certainly helps me.
  4. Don't rush. In my opinion, this applies to the entire writing process. Take the time to make an outline. Get to know your main and supporting characters. Attack that fearsome first draft with courage, but know that you have time to go back and change things. Slow and steady always wins the race.
Fogs always disappear. Bright autumn sunshine is now covering the roads and I can look up to a clear blue sky. May your writing be fog-free, or if you're experiencing a small weather disturbance be confidant that the road is still there if you look hard enough.


  1. Great advice and I loved how you presented it.

    Is that a read picture? Spooky.

    Straight From Hel

  2. It's real. It's downtown Vancouver in the fog. Actually taken last winter.

  3. Love the photo, love the post, and love the advice. You wove all three together perfectly. Well done, girl!!!

  4. Elisa and Helen said it. Very good advice, very cleverly and well usual.


  5. WOW! What a gorgeous photo!

    Beautiful analogies, Elspeth :) I love fog - the beauty, the texture, the emotions it invokes. So much can happen in fog! In fact, I think it might just work itself into the scene I'm working on... Thanks!

  6. My, but that's a surreal shot. We had a few foggy nights a few weeks back, in the middle of summer--very strange. Now the heat's back. I'd give anything for cool fog. I love how you wrote this, very informative. I follow much of this advice in my "real writing" but fall short on my blog where I tend to whip stuff up spur of the moment. I need to spend a little more time planning and outlining what I put on my blog.

  7. Elisa; Thanks! Aren't you just the kindest person?

    Galen; I need to carry you around in my pocket. You say the nicest things!

    Jemi; Thanks! Isn't fog terrific?

    Elizabeth: I think your blog is terrific and very thoughtfully written. I admit that everyone of these blogs are very much spur of the moment.

    To everyone: WIsh I could take credit for the picture - but it ran in our local paper a year or so ago. I've always saved it because it's just so cool. It would have been taken from one of the mountains in West Vancouver - in fact a mountain that has Olympic sports happening on it in February.

  8. Wonderful advice! I'll keep this with me the next time the fog swirls around me.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  9. Great analogy. I need this...because I'm in that part of my book where I start to get restless.

  10. I especially like your note about the characters who just show up but must be there for a reason. I had one keel over dead when I expected him to be there until the end of the book. At first, I wasn't sure I could trust that he had already served his purpose in the story. After thinking it over, however, I let him rest in peace (and the fog cleared).


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