How to Write a Driving Scene

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Part One

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  1. What type of car are they in? Taxi? Limo? Regular car?
  2. »A.Where is their final destination?

I.      A driving scene needs to be significant to the overall plot. If it isn’t then it’s suggested that you skip this scene and write “I drove to so-and so”.

II.     If a taxi is taxing the character to a location, then the destination is probably not far. If a limo is taking the character, then the final location is probably far, and if the character is taking their own car they can drive all the way across the country if they want.

III.    Where are they going? Is it important, and if so do they plan on using a map, gps, or memory to get them there?

Example 1:  

 I got inside my Honda. It was from 1986 clean and still working. I had the option of taking the limo to the party, but last minute I changed my mind. Probably because I just lost my job and my girlfriend broke up with me; there was no reason for me to spend money on a limo anymore… I had no one to impress.

     The last time I been to this guy’s house was ages ago. I’m not even sure if I knew where he lived. Oh well, it was worth a shot to just try.

 

    »B.Is anyone with the character during the drive?

I.      Maybe they can have a conversation with them. If they are alone, then they can have a conversation over the phone or even talk to their self. The conversation can be about the final destination and what they plan to do there.

II.    If the character is with someone, does the person annoy the character? Does the person help the character with directions or does the person get the directions mixed up and they end up going somewhere dangerous… or better.

Example 2:  

Before I left my block I saw Emily standing on the corner, crying. I quickly stepped on the break and got out of my vehicle.  “What’s the matter,” I said anxiously.

“Thomas broke up with me,” she wailed.

“What a jerk. Today was supposed to be your big day too, wasn’t it?” She nodded but the tears continued to fall.

“Here, I’ll be your escort for the party.”

“I don’t know,” she said shyly. Though her actions didn’t match her words; she got inside my car anyway. Scratching my head, I ran around the car, sat in the driver’s seat and started the engine.

“Don’t worry,” I said, leaving the block, “We’ll have a good time. I promise.”

**

Part Two

  1. What interesting things happen on this trip?
  2. »A.Is the car perfect or busted?

I.    Does the character have to constantly stop for gas? Does the engine smoke or wheel get a flat?

II.       Does the character needs a ‘jump’ and ask someone for help? Maybe the person they meet can become the love of their life. Or, maybe they just call for a tow truck and have to somehow pay for the fee.

Example 3: 

Several cars passed us by, no one stopped to help. We were stranded on the side of the road.

“Why don’t you call a tow truck?” Emily asked.

“Yeah, and risk having to pay off the debt for the rest of my life. I think not?”

“Then what are we going to do. I could have stayed at home and watched soap operas,” she complained.

“Show some leg. You know how they do on television and movies.”

Right then she slapped me silly across the face. I deserved it.

“Sorry,” I said, rubbing my cheek. “I guess I’m just a little desperate.”

“Then why don’t you show some leg, mmm?”

“Maybe I will,” I exclaimed. “Maybe I will!” 

     

    »B.Are there any dangerous stunts happening on the road?

I.       Does the character get into an accident?

II.       Is there traffic that makes the character have to wait forever to get through? Maybe they decide to take the back roads and end up in an interesting place.

III.      Are there crazy drivers on the road, tailgating the driver or cutting them off? What about motorcyclists? Does the driver come close to hitting them?

Example 4:  

“Wait, I just remembered my dad put a tire in the back. I’ll just change it real quick and we’ll be on our way.”

“Right boozo.” Emily hit the back of my head. “What about the smoking?”

“Stop being so aggressive, would you? It does that sometimes. All I need to do is redo the duct tape and put some more super glue on, and it should be fine.”

Emily rolled her eyes. “Better be,” she said, crossing her arms.

“Now I know why Thomas broke up with you. You’re such a….” She glanced over at me. “Never mind.” I zipped my lip and got back to work. No more than an hour later and we were on our way to the party. Emily knew how to get there by heart so that made the journey easier.

“We better hurry up, it’s about to rain.”

“How do you know?” I said. That’s when thunder sounded. “Never mind.”

“It’s getting cold can I turn on the heater?”

“NO. Uh, huh. I got a jacket in the back. Hold on let me find it.” I asked her to take the wheel as I looked in the back of the car seat.

“Hurry up John. You can get a ticket. This is worse than driving and texting.”

“Don’t worry. Just keep your eyes on the road. You’ll be fine.”

“AHHHHH!” I heard a scream. The next thing I know…. Bump… thump.. CRASH. Black out. Everywhere.

     

    »C.Does the weather cooperate with the character?

I.         How does rain or snow effect the driving? There can be skidding on the road and dangerous accidents can happen.

II.       If the weather is sunny and bright, then maybe the sun blinds the character and they have to put the visor down. Or maybe they don’t have air conditioning in their car so they have to stop by a local restraint to relax awhile because it’s too hot.

III.        Fog is dangerous; the driver has to go slow. Add in some consequences if your character decides to be reckless.

Example 5:  

The only reason I saw light was because someone was shining a flashlight in my face.

“Get up,” Emily said. I looked at her, wide-eyed. Her face had bruised all over and her hands were shaking. A look of ‘I’m pissed’ was in her attitude.

“Oh no.” I covered my mouth. “Emily, I’m soo sorr—”

“Save it,” she said. She glanced up to the sky. The rain began to fall. Slow, at first, but then it steadily became faster and heavier.

“What happened?” I got up and brushed myself off. The car had tipped to the side and my back window cracked a little but other than that everything seemed fine.

“A car almost rammed into us but I swerved in the nick of time. Now,” she cleared her throat, “let’s put this hunk of junk up the right way and get to the party already.”

“You really think we can lift my car? Are you insane?”

“Either we lift the car and get out of here or you call a tow truck and pay.”

I threw off my jacket and rolled up my sleeves. “Okay, let’s do this,” I said, trying to firmly plant my feet in the mud.

**

Part Three

  1. Are there any risks taken during this drive?
  2. »A. Hitchhikers, maybe? How about stopping in the middle of nowhere to look around a crazy town?

I.         Depending on the story, and depending on how long you want this scene to be, it would be interesting if you add some sort of risky decision on your character’s behalf.

II.         How does the risk change the course of the journey? For example, texting and driving? Was it a good decision or a bad decision?

Example 6:  

We spent the next hour trying to flip my car over. What a shame. It wasn’t until two hitch hikers came that we finally got the darn thing to stand on the right side. The deal was that we had to drive them to the next bus station. I thought easy enough, why not?

“Here it is,” I said joyfully, arriving to the bus stop. “The next bus should come by in ten minutes. Thanks for the help you guys, I appreciate it.”

One of the hikers, named Charley, arched his eyebrow. “We didn’t want to come here to wait for a bus. We own the bus.”

“Yeah,” the other hitch hiker, named Marsha said. “We are the Mokatas, an international band. Yeah, we took a walk, got lost and had to call our chauffeur for help.”

“But you are right about ten minutes. He’ll be here then. Hey, you know what,” Charley continued, “Why don’t we give you a ride to your party. It’s on the way to our gig anyway.”

Marsha smiled. “Yep. Sure is.”

Emily and I stared at one another in shock. I had to be hit on the head in order to come back to reality.

“Yes, yes…. I mean, how rad.” I blinked owlishly. My luck was somehow changing for the better. Did Emily have anything to do with it?

     

    »B.What does the character do to entertain himself/herself?

I.          Do they turn up the radio all the way and sing loudly to their favorite jam?

II.       Do they drive really fast down the road, swerving in-between cars? If so, think about the consequences. Maybe a cop will give them a ticket or they can cause am accident.

III.      Or they can take a quick nap in the back of their car if they are feeling tired or bored. If so, what do they dream about? Is it relevant to the overall plot?

Example 7:   It didn’t take long for the Motakas tour bus to come. On the way to the party we all sang to their songs. I couldn’t believe I never heard of them. As for my car, well it was pulled on the back, safe and sound. Nearly busted, but safe and sound.

**

Part Four

  1. Arriving to the destination.
  2. »A.Focus on their thinking and how much they feel accomplished?

I.      Of course if it wasn’t a long journey then the character might not feel overwhelming accomplished, however they may feel happy about being at their destination, especially when taking the first steps out the car door.

II.        Does the character remember the drive and how good or bad it was? Do they tell the person they’re visiting about what happened on their drive?

III.        Does the character ease their way out of the vehicle or does their legs feel like jello?

Example 8:  

We arrived at the party. Fashionably late, I’d say, but we got here nonetheless. My legs felt like jello, I could only imagine how Emily felt.

 “Well, good luck,” the Motakas said as they lowered my car.

“Thanks again,” Emily and I said, waving. We took a deep breath and looked at one another.

“Want to keep this to ourselves?”

She shrugged. “I guess. Who is going to believe us anyway.”

Making our way into the party, everyone greeted us like we were celebrities. Thomas and my ex-girlfriend were at the party together. How disgusting, however for some strange reason I didn’t care too much. Probably because that drive wore me out.

“We saw you on the news,” Thomas shouted. He marched over to us, practically drag my ex behind him. “Emily, I didn’t know you knew the Motakas.”

Emily smiled. “I guess you didn’t know a lot of things about me did you?” I grinned.

“Hey,” Thomas began. He pushed my ex to the side and brushed his hair back. “I was wondering. Maybe we should give it another shot. Whaddaya say? Huh? Just like old times?”

Emily rolled her eyes, looked at me and kissed me on the cheek. “I’ve already moved on, Thomas. It’s too late.” And with that, she dragged me away from the scene.

     

    »B.How is the car doing? What needs to be done to it?

I.   Does the car need gas or an oil check? How about a wash if the character drove through the mud or if it rained.

II.       Is the car making noises after the trip? Did it start off as a great car and become horrible after the journey? Would it be safe to drive in the car again?

Example 9:  

After the party, Emily and I walked out as a couple. Though, my newfound confidence faded when I saw my car all dirty and busted. It wasn’t doing so well.

“Hey,” Emily said, rubbing my chest and trying to make me feel better. “You can get a new car.”

“I know,” I said weakly. “But this was like my baby, you know. And after today, all the memories… uh… how am I ever going to get rid of it.”

“Um, excuse me,” an unfamiliar voice sounded. “Yes, I am Mr. Mon of the Monnet Car Industries.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of you. What do you want? Can’t you see us soaking in our misery over here?”

“Well, I was wondering if I could buy this car off of you.”

I held up my hand. “Sorry, man, no can do. My gal and I had a long day. There is no way I would ever give this bad boy up. I made up my mind.”

“What if I gave you a quarter of a million dollars?” The man straightened his tie.

I practically threw up the beer that I drank from the party. “Half, haaalf..” I couldn’t stop stuttering. Luckily Emily spoke for me.

“What’s the catch?” she asked crossing her arms.

“Nothing. My son is a huge, huge fan of the Makatas. His birthday is coming up and money is too common to be considered a gift. This, this car, however, is a true treasure. You’re all over the news kid. Pictures of this car on the back of the Motakas’ bus is all over the web. So, what do you say, Mr?” The man smiled widely.

“Sir….” I held out my hand and shook his. “You got yourself a deal!”

**



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