1. Annaberru
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    Annaberru Member

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    Tips on starting a chasing-scene?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Annaberru, Jul 12, 2013.

    In my head, there's this scene where my two main characters are running through a dense, dark forest to escape drones and helicopters. I have a lot of stuff in my head for the scene, but I'm missing one thing: the opening.
    I want the whole thing to make the reader really feel the panic and paranoia the main characters feel as they run for their lives.

    How do I kick it off?
    Do they start out by relaxing and then noticing the drones, are they walking through the forest, or do I start off by them running? Do I start with dialogue?
    I sit with pen and paper for hours, I sit in front to the computer with my Word open for hours, and I can't bring myself to write even one single word because not knowing how to start throws me off so much.
     
  2. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It depends - where in your book is this scene set? Is this the opening of your book? Is this something that happens mid-way through something else?

    However, to kick it off - you wanna build up the tension first. The mood is important here - once you've established fear in the readers (by showing them the fear in your characters), you're off to a good start. Make the reader fear these pursuers first, and then break them into a run.
     
  3. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    He saw a flash, and felt sudden heat. A devastating, loud crunch, followed by rushing air startled them from their slumber. The drone had found them!
     
  4. Annaberru
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    Annaberru Member

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    I don't know if it's a book or "just" a story yet, but it's situated somewhere in the middle, I think.
    The two characters are running away, and have been for the run in the wild for about a day before the "bad guys" bring out the drones and helicopters.
    So, in my head, the only solution is that one of them hears the helicopters or spots a drone, and they have to leave everything behind and just run.
    ... Which doesn't leave me with much time for building up the necessary tension, and I get stuck.
     
  5. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Don't wait for inspiration. It doesn't have to be right the first time. You can always set a version aside (never delete) and write it again.

    So, write the scene one way in one file and then write it the other way in a second file. Do a fast clean-up edit so you won't be distracted later by trivia. Wait a day or three and read them. Which works better?

    Also, you can't outrun a helicopter. Unless they see a good hiding place close by that they need to get to, running is the worst thing they can do because that makes them easier to spot.
     
  6. A.Tad.of.Conrad
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    A.Tad.of.Conrad Member

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    The Man in the Iron Mask has a terrific chase scene, my advice would be read that (and look up other chase scenes in books. Usually reading is my best inspiration)
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Well said.
    [MENTION=10171]Ann[/MENTION]berru - It seems to me the problem isn't the chase scene. It's that you have the scene but not the story. You need to figure out why the characters are being chased, because that forms the conflict for your story. And once you know the conflict, writing to the point of the chase should be easy. Not only that, but you will probably have a leg up on working out how the chase comes out and what happens afterward. Otherwise, it's just a film clip.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Then start with the whipping sound of the helicopter, the moment of freezing, of fear, and then make a dash for it. You need only one line to open, and it seems like you have your opening - the sound of the helicopter - but you just don't trust yourself enough to go for it.

    Ed's advice is also spot on. Once you know the story, it'll be a lot easier to write.
     
  9. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    You can start it using any of those methods. Actually, I think it would be a good idea to write using each of those methods and then choose the best sounding one, then improve on it from there. I think right now, you're afraid you won't get it write the first time so you don't write anything at all. Don't bother struggling with that fear, just ignore it and start writing what you think would be an interesting opening.

    This is only a suggestion and by no means do this everytime, but the start of a chase scene doesn't have to be calm, then BLAM! Machine-gunfire!! Have the intro be a standalone scene on itself instead of just a build up to the chase scene. This gives the scene meaning instead of just being there for a cheap surprise. Maybe they are discussing what move they are going to make next. Maybe they are having an argument because their personalities call for it. Maybe one of them goes out to survey the area to make sure it's safe but then he spots the helicopter. When he's running back to warn his friend, he trips and sprains his ankle.. Uh oh...

    Just write different starts for the scene and pick the one that stands out to you.
     
  10. MsScribble
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    MsScribble Member

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    I would start right in the scene, maybe at a place where they just can't run anymore, or a drone has has a weapon pointed right at them, or maybe one of them is already injured. Just hit the reader with a sinking feeling that these characters are going to be caught.
     
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If the characters have been on the run for a while, this might be a good point for them to start feeling confident they've finally escaped. Maybe they are relaxing, resting. Maybe one of them makes a 'famous last words' remark, like 'well, I think we've finally lost them,' or something like that. Even the reader could be lulled into feeling ...ahh, they've made it...then WHAM!
     
  12. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    Never mind the drones and choppers.

    What are you trying to make the reader feel? Fear? Excitement? Sympathy?

    And, what are you writing? a Brad Thor adventure? A Stephen King horror? Or a more literary work, like John Irving's The World According to Garp? Toward the end of that one Garp dies- spoiler alert!- but after the author tells us of the murder he spends dozens of pages getting to the act, and thus keeping us enthralled.
     
  13. Something Blue
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    Something Blue New Member

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    Yeah, like Steve Day says, I'd ignore the choppers and the drones for a while, and concentrate on your MCs.

    Something like "Fred's boot trod on a pile of twigs, snapping them with a faint crack, as he charged through the forest. He sprinted through the trees and a branch whipped him across the cheek, the impact leaving a sharp sting and a thin line of blood. Fred paid it no heed. He glanced back, nervously."

    Something like that. Describe the setting, the adrenaline, the MCs' desire to get away. They're the most important things. Doesn't really matter if he's being chased by a giant or a rabbit. In fact, chase scenes are usually the more thrilling if your don't know why, or from whom (or both), the character is fleeing.
     

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