From London to Kentucky: Lucy and Tom reveal how to boost your writing productivity by working with a partner who lives on the other side of the Atlantic


 

From London to Kentucky: Lucy and Tom reveal how to boost your writing productivity by working with a partner who lives on the other side of the Atlantic

If only I had more time to write…

If only I could speed up the process and feel more confident during my screenwriting journey.

If you are like me, these sentences are constantly spinning around your head.

I had those doubts in my mind during the London PitchFest of 2024, where I was alone in front of producers, pitching my projects.

If you don’t know what a pitch festival is, think about being at a speed dating event, where you are looking for someone who will fall in love with your story, while a 5-minute timer is running under your eyes.

I thought “This is it. That’s how the industry works. You are a lonely jellyfish in the ocean, swimming against the stream, fighting for your dreams.”

Then I saw Lucy Linger and her writing partner Tom Lockridge talking together. «We made it! Working on a game plan together was so helpful».

That conversation hit me hard. I was at the pitch festival alone with all my fears.

The only person who believed in my projects and supported them, apart from my mother, was me.

Lucy and Tom had each other. For the entire London Screenwriter Festival.

They supported each other emotionally and professionally.

They promoted their projects and, because they were together, they managed to talk to all the producers in the room, doubling their chances of finding representation.

Looking at them collaborating as a team, I had the feeling that their story is special and full of precious screenwriting lessons.

And then what every screenwriter dreams of during a pitch happened…

After the PitchFest, Lucy and Tom managed to continue the conversation with two producers at the pub.

So, this article is more than an interview.

It’s a life-changing lesson for your screenwriting career because, after figuring out Lucy and Tom’s method you’ll discover, as I did, that you’re not alone with your fears and your doubts.

Through Lucy and Tom’s story you’ll discover how to boost your productivity to push your career to the next level

Perhaps you, like me, have always thought that writing is a solo journey.

I decided to challenge this belief and discover the benefits of having a writing partner who supports your dreams and works hard like you to make them happen.

Even Lucy, who has been writing and directing as a solo act for over 20 years, thought it was impossible to write with someone else, especially if the co-writer lived in another country.

Then she met Tom and together they discovered what might appear a weakness can turn into your superpower.

Lucy and Tom have completely different personalities.

Like day and night.

Summer and winter.

But it was their differences that helped them round out their writing voice and find new angles on life that enriched their stories, as you will soon discover.

Tom is an American screenwriter and producer with a friendly Kentucky accent.

With his American writing partner, Tom wrote and sold to Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel his feature “Midway to Love, which he shot soon after the 2018 LSF.

When he isn’t writing, he works as a prosecutor, using the power of storytelling to fight for justice.

Lucy is a Londoner, talkative and sunny, who adds comedy to every aspect to her life.

Coming from the theatre world, Lucy left her job running a costume hire shop to live her writing dream, writing, producing and, selling films, plays and, shorts like Love Lies (2019) and Yoga in Isolation (2020).

Rewarded and already on the path of a fully paid screenwriter career, Tom and Lucy have an important element in common: their passion for writing in the rom-com genre, and the determination to write stories that inspire.

“Tom and I immediately hit it off”, explained Lucy, “Our writing style was very similar, and we love each other’s previous work. Tom had already written and produced three movies with a writing partner, so he suggested we try writing something together.

We easily found a way to co-write, and even if living on the other side of the Atlantic seemed an obstacle, it would become the secret to our productivity…”.

The step-by-step process to improve your writing productivity thanks to a writing partner

You might think that communication platforms, such as Zoom or Meet, are the secret weapon for collaborating with another writer who lives on the other side of the ocean.

It seems incredible, but Lucy and Tom started to write their first movie via WhatsApp and emails, bouncing ideas back and forth like a tennis match.

“It was only when the pandemic broke out and everyone started communicating via video chat that we decided to include the video call as a new tool in our communication. And that’s when we discovered our unique writing method.”

As Lucy and Tom explained to me…

Imagine working with another screenwriter who is in the same room as you.

Your co-author is probably sitting in front of you with their laptop, separating you like a wall.

Instead, Lucy and Tom were facing each other, making eye contact, without a PC in the middle.

So, this is the first step of the process to write easily and successfully with a co-author.

Creating original and compelling characters leveraging the differences between you and your writing partner

During their video calls, Lucy and Tom define the story structure and create the characters and the world, with a brainstorming session.

Having a partner who lives in a different country and has different life experiences helps you to expand your identity and enrich the world of your story and your characters with new views and perspectives.

Not only that…

It will help you to write accurately about other countries, and the accents of other places you have never visited.

“Since Kentucky offers good tax incentives for producing and shooting a movie, Lucy and I decided to write our first story about a UK lawyer who travels to Kentucky to convince a farmer to sell his farm to build a retail centre. It’s a story about love between two different cultures, and it’s also a story about accepting the differences and falling in love with a different way of life”, explained Tom.

This movie “Kentucky in Love” was possible because Lucy and Tom joined their different backgrounds and points of view to create a unique story.

Lucy helped Tom to understand more about British culture.

Tom showed Lucy what life in Kentucky and its traditions are like.

“Now, I can write characters who speak the correct angular and drawn-out, Kentucky drawl”, Lucy revealed.

It was a unique mix between Kentucky and London that attracted a London producer…

In “Kentucky with Love,” there is a scene in a bar, where the protagonist sings country songs, a very traditional genre from Kentucky.

Even though Tom is from Kentucky, he isn’t a fan of country music.

Lucy, on the other hand, loves country music but has never had the chance to hear it played in a real Kentucky bar.

Together, they filled in the missing information and managed to write an accurate and realistic music scene for their movie, which grabbed the interest of a London producer, who like Lucy, loves country music.

But the music wasn’t per se the colour that highlighted the script.

 Lucy explained: “First you think about all the traditional elements related to the location. Then you think about how you could use those elements to push your story forward, adding meaning to the plot.”

The country songs that the protagonist sings throughout the movie will be the key element for the final turning point of the story.

So, if you want a script that “sings”, every detail must become a cogwheel that makes your story flow coherently like Swiss clockwork.

But how can you write a joint movie with a partner who lives in another country?

This magical strategy of colour coding also adds your unique voices, and transforms them into a cohesive masterpiece…

Colours and lots of writing

Once Lucy and Tom have a structure and an idea for the story, they start writing.

They usually divide the script into several parts and decide whom will write the first act, the first part of the second act and so on.

Then, they send their drafts to each other.

And that’s when the colour coding becomes important.

Lucy writes her lines in purple.

Tom writes in blue.

Then they use other colours Legends:

  • Red means: “I think we should cut this”.
  • Green means: “Things that don’t work, we can’t cut but that I don’t know how to fix.”

When writing with a partner, to navigate through the script, you can use colours to understand what additions your co-author has made, and what you need to improve.

It’s like table tennis: the script goes back and forth and gets better every day, with new ideas, different perspectives, and solutions.

Especially in this part of the process, working with an author who lives on the other side of the Atlantic is the key to speeding up the work.

As Tom told me, “It is practically like working nonstop all day on your script, while you can get on with your life: be with your family, look after your dog, have fun, and have a second job like I do”.

When Tom goes to bed, Lucy wakes up in London, opens the email and finds a new, draft, already from the day before, with notes that still need work, and parts of the script that have already been improved.

This is how collaboration speeds your writing process…

Co-writing gets you to your goal faster, and overcomes writer’s block and anxiety when you realise your script has a problem

Think about your own writing process…

If you come across a gap in the plot hole or have a problem you don’t know how to solve, you take a break, in the hope that you will find a solution more quickly.

You could take a shower as Aaron Sorkin suggests…

Or go for a walk.

Sometimes you have to sleep on a problem to wake up with an out of the box solution.

But when Lucy or Tom have problems, they can turn to their cowriter to help them.  

«Tom has a different perspective on the problem, and is coming at it fresh, so it’s easier for him to come up with a creative solution that I could never have imagined. On the other hand, when Tom has a problem, I can often come up with suggestions that might never have occurred to him.»

When you have a co-author as a partner, you wake up and the problem is already solved, with creative solutions you would never have never thought of.

The draft is magically fixed…

And you can get on with the story.

Just like with the car scene…

Here’s how a Kentucky ruminant car owner named Socrates spices up a very ordinary and “boring” beat…

In their movie “A Bourbon Tale”, Lucy and Tom had to write a scene in which the protagonist hires a car.

This could be a forgettable one or two line moment, but instead Lucy and Tom used creative solutions to set up a comedic scene their audience won’t forget.

One of the notes that Tom and Lucy had consistently received on their script is how it shows Kentucky in such a new and authentic light.

In fact…

One exec commented that when people think of Kentucky, they imagine red necks and meth heads. There were none of those in this script.

But this got Tom thinking that maybe he could highlight the contrast between the stereotype everyone has in their head and the authentic characters on screen.

Lucy thought this sounded like a great idea and handed the script back to Tom, who was able to add to the scene a level of specificity and detail that only a native could even imagine.

First, he named the car owner Socrates, in reference to the Greek philosopher of the 5th BC. He gives him the classic Kentucky look but adds an ALE- 8 bottle for his chewing tobacco.

To complete the picture, Socrates doesn’t have any contract hire agreement or insurance documents.

For flair Tom adds that the truck “pulls to the left”: a throw away first draft line that Lucy then picks up and runs with, paying off later in a comedic chase scene.

Use specificity to set up information for the next scenes

It’s this level of specificity, comedy and flair for seemingly mundane beats that helped the script end up among the top 10 at the International Screenwriters Association Comedy Awards.

But productivity, awards, positive feedback and options from producers aren’t the only benefits Lucy and Tom discovered working together.

Their process is also an emotional-support system on the “not so easy” road of screenwriting.

Writing is like a roller coaster ride.

Today you’re happy with your story, you love your dialogue, and you feel confident.

Tomorrow, you want to burn every single line and start from scratch.

But if you have a co-author by your side, you can ask for help, and have support with important career decisions…

You can approach pitches and meetings with more confidence because you’re not alone.

And you can count on someone to support your project and guide you towards your goals.

Lucy and Tom have written two rom-coms and a Christmas movie together.

Their journey together is only just beginning. They have more projects they want to share with the world.

“We have more ideas than time.” Says Tom.

Both Lucy and Tom have lots of projects on their plate.

Lucy, for example, is a script doctor and a writing coach.

With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, Lucy provides a holistic approach to your writing career, guiding you to make your first short film, stage a play, pitch, or improve your latest draft with professional feedback, as you can read in her students’ testimonials.

So, even if the commitments and the ideas are never ending, at least Tom and Lucy have each other to always find time to write.

And what about you?

Writing can be a solo journey in life.

You can decide if you want to row alone or with someone else…

Or like Lucy you can do a bit of both…

Lucy has a TV Series optioned that she wrote alone, but she makes the point that now it’s optioned she has other collaborators to help shape the project as it goes to market.

The moral is – Find a support system.

A place where you can share your doubts, fears and advice with screenwriters who have been through all your problems and figured out how to solve them.

Come to the London Screenwriting Festival, and meet other screenwriters, coaches, and producers to find the support you need to make your dream come true.

Click here to get the early bird tickets.

I’d like to thank Lucy and Tom for taking the time to share their writing journey and secrets with us.

See you at the London Screenwriting Festival, 2025.

Book here.

You never know which person you’ll will meet there that will change your life.

Julia Campisi
Screenwriter and Journalist

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