1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Member

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    Writing a Chase Scene?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, Sep 1, 2012.

    Specifically, I'm trying to write a scene with momentum, and a sense of speed, something that is proving to be rather difficult.

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    The last time I tried to write a scene with a sense of momentum, it ended up overusing metaphor, and like a meal with way too much salt, got issues from that. So, help on this one please?
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Car/vehicle chase scene or on foot chase scene?
     
  3. Killer300
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    Killer300 Member

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    This is an on foot chase, but advice on either would helpful.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'd use high action verbs - dart, streak, flash, feet pounding, arms churning, wheeling, clawing for another yard.
    Get into your characters skin - make him pant , sweat, wheeze, let the sweat get into his eyes, make him
    complain about his clothes - this isn't the outfit for running-for-your-life. Is he hoping his shoes
    will stay on, is he skidding over gravel, give him a stitch in his side. Is he scanning for a weapon
    to hide and make a stand, is he merely trying to escape, is he pulling over garbage cans to
    create an obsticle in his wake?
    Keep it choppy. Don't describe everything. Think in terms of movie editing - flinging branches in
    the hero's path, hearing a gulp of breath. A frantic heartbeat. Hero turning his head to keep an eye on his
    persuer. Where is he? - is he getting closer? Give him thoughts of fear, and panic. Keep metaphors
    to a minimum - short and snappy.
    He ran like a panther could be condense to he was panther-quick.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess I mostly use very strong verbs (slam, arrest, skid, crash etc) and all in the simple past, very direct. Everything's quite physical and there's not many metaphors to speak of I think. Mostly focus on your MC's emotions, what he sees and hears. I'd say it's not too different from an action scene, where the rule is "action --> reaction" - so if Josh kicked Jack, then Jack should howl. If a murderer grinned at Josh, then Josh should shudder. But not to simply recount a list of actions from only one perspective, unless of course your MC can't see his/her chaser, in which case I'd focus on sounds and start playing with what your MC could be imagining.

    Lemme see how I wrote my chase scenes... *searches own MS*

    Edit: have searched own MS, mostly focus on action-reaction and a desperate train of the MC's thoughts :D Make it as physical as you can - twigs snapping, branches whipping and slashes your MC's cheek, glowing eyes of native animals so that your MC's not sure who looked out of the shadows, the rustling of leaves sounding like footsteps of his/her pursuer. And also the MC's own body - aching pain, shortness of breath, desperate thirst, twisted ankle, all good stuff!
     
  6. captain kate
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    captain kate Member

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    Specifically, pace it by the choice of verbs, use action verbs, run, leapt, jump, legs thumping. The idea of having to have utterly short sentences to make action is misnomer, once again, it's how you write it and the choice of words you use that matter. I have long sentences in my scenes, yet the actions moves along quickly do the a choice of words, action verbs, action nouns, with an occasional, key word occasional, adverb.

    Mainly sprinkle it with the right verbs, and items like sweat, breathing hard, muscle soreness and tiredness. Just remember there's no one way to write and action scene either.
     
  7. Killer300
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    Killer300 Member

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    Thanks guys so far, but something that complicates this chase is that it's actually down a stairwell, instead of just on a road.
     
  8. IanLawson
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    IanLawson New Member

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    If it's the type of stairs I'm thinking of I would probably write it like this (but I’m a self-published type, what do I know):

    As I was running down the stairs I started to wonder how much I could push it without killing myself. He was leaping whole blocks of stairs at a time. I didn’t quite have the courage this guy had and he was starting to get away (or gain on me). There’s something really unnatural about running down stairs, you almost feel as though you’re not in control of your own movements. Like your own body is getting away from you.

    I decided to say f*** it, and let my body do what it needed to do to catch him. I would let gravity decide how fast I could descend, if that meant dying, or breaking bones, that was a risk I was willing to take. Otherwise I was going to lose him. At the end of each block of stars, it became increasingly painful as I started to miss more and more steps. The impact was hurting my shins, and it was beginning to knock the wind out of my lungs, but I had to catch him.

    The momentum of my downward travel was so out of control that I began to feel as though I’d unleashed a monster.
    Etc.

    If you want to use any of that you can.
     
  9. Killer300
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    Killer300 Member

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    Ah, interesting, but no thanks, as I'm currently writing the direction of this in... interesting ways.
     
  10. IanLawson
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    IanLawson New Member

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    You could always try running down the stairs for inspiration, tie your shoelaces though, and make sure you're insured.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    For one thing, vary the pace if there is any duration to it. If it's entirely high adrenaline action, you run the risk of saturation. High intensity is not continuously sustainable.

    Also vary the terrain. If you have a vertical chase scene, interrupt it with some horizontal movement. Perhaps a section of stairs is blocked, collapsed, or manned by the enemy. So the protag has to find a way out of that stairwell to another one elsewhere in the building, and with obstacles and dangers on that path as well. She or he may also need to backtrack, climbing down a level during an ascending chase or vice versa.
     
  12. Killer300
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    Killer300 Member

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    With the first, excellent point. Right now, I actually have a pause in the middle, of sorts, that allows a character to rest a little, and both characters have quite high endurance for plot reasons.

    The latter, hmm, well, I did have it go onto a street, and a character actually let himself fall many flights of stairs, so okay, thanks, I can certainly make this work.
     

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