Monday, February 29, 2016

Writing About: A Car Chase (Road Rage)



In Book 3 of my Disaster Crimes series there is an intense car chase with Beth Kennedy. As always with these action scenes, I had a blast writing it, but it wasn’t easy. While keeping the pace fast, I also had to describe what was going on. Every second of the chase had to be detailed.

Getting into such details can be difficult for some writers, so I’m sharing several things you should remember if you need to write a car chase.


1. Where is your character going?

Before you begin a car chase, you need to tell your readers where your character is and where he/she is going. This may seem like a small detail but it paints a clear picture. In Book 3, Beth was heading home when the car chase occurs.

2. What does the car chasing your character do?

To make a chase exciting, the other car needs to cause a lot of trouble. The hostile driver could slam into your character’s bumper, sideswipe the car, or even run him/her off the road. Guns could also come into play.
TIP: Think these actions through, though, because if your character’s car is totaled or your character is injured (whiplash is a common injury when a car is hit from behind), you have to carry-out these problems through a couple of chapters, at least.
3. Other Cars and Pedestrians

Anytime there’s a car chase or road rage, other cars and pedestrians in the area are in danger. Make sure you don’t write an unrealistic chase scene with no other cars on the road. Your character may have to maneuver around cars or could hit one by accident. He/she may also have to dodge pedestrians crossing the street.

4. Red Lights

One problem your character will face and can’t control is a red light. You can have your character run a red light in desperation or get stuck behind it with nowhere to go. Even if you don’t want any red lights, mentioning green and yellow lights is smart since you can’t drive a block in most cities without seeing stoplights.

Image from Pixabay

5. How does your character lose the pursuer?

The car chasing your character won’t just disappear. Consider how the chase ends and what’ll make the most sense to your story. Will cops get involved? Will your character lose the other car with slick, fast driving?

6. Car Damage

When the chase is over, don’t just end it with the arrival at a safe destination. Have him/her inspect their car for damage. If the car was rammed, there will be body damage and the airbags would’ve deployed. A visit to the ER is always wise to rule out injuries.

7. Fear

Being in a car chase is scary. Show your character’s fear as they peer through the rearview mirror and drive for his/her life. White knuckles in the steering wheel, racing heart, and beads of sweat.

The fear that lingers after a car chase (or accident) is something you should give attention to. Your character could be frightened to drive or become anxious whenever he/she sees a car like the one that chase him/her.

Image from Pixabay

Other things to consider:

- Who is doing the chasing?

Maybe your character has been in a conflict with someone, or the driver is a mystery that you’ll unravel later.

- Why is your character being chased?

It is because of road rage or something more sinister? If your character doesn’t know at the moment, reveal it with the scenes/chapters that follow.

- What kinds of vehicles are involved?

Is your character in a BMW, and the pursuer in a truck? Adding this info adds detail to the scene and can create more tension.




QUESTION: Have you even been involved in road rage?


57 comments:

  1. Haven't been involved in a road wage but have witnessed some. People cutting a driver off, the honking and cursing and giving the finger. Sometimes I just want to pull them a side and say, "Relax. Chill. There are bigger things to worry about."

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    1. I want to say the same thing to those people.

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  2. Good point about the red lights. Because unless your car chase is out in the country or on the freeway, the law of averages says you will encounter red lights.

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    1. Precisely. Red lights are inevitable.

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  3. Great advice. You make me want to write a chase scene.

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  4. I did one car chase and it was in the past, so no red lights haha

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    1. You were in a car chase...or wrote about one?

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  5. You know that meme you used with the dog screaming about the blinker? Yeah...that's totally me when I'm driving.

    But my road rage has seemed rather tame to some others I have encountered. No car chases yet, though.

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    1. Haha! That's my sisters too. ;)

      Thank goodness no car chases yet. Hopefully never.

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  6. Great tips for writing about road rage. I haven't really been involved with road rage; in my younger years I might have been upset if someone cut me off, etc., now I just let the "crazy" drivers pass me; I rather have them in front of me than behind me.

    betty

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    1. I just let the crazy drivers pass me too. Better to have them pass then stay close to you.

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  7. Great points about the traffic lights and signs, and also the part about other cars on the road.

    And I know for a fact I've yelled those same words about people not using turning signals. Not out the window, because I'm a chicken, but inside the car. :)

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    1. Sometimes writers can forget those things in the midst of writing a thrilling car chase.

      You yell it at the windshield. ;)

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  8. Oh my. There really are no easy parts in books. Great tips, Chrys!

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  9. With a car chase, there would be obstacles of all sorts. Animals could get in front of the car, too.

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    1. Oh yes! Certain areas have deer and then there's cats, dogs, raccoon (at night)...the list goes on.

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  10. Action scenes are tough for me to write. I can easily picture them and play them out like a movie, but putting those images into words is hard. I have yet to do a car chase. The closest is I had a vampire jump on top of a movie car and crash it into a tree because it was dinner time.

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    1. LOL! I want to read that vampire scene. ;)

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  11. Road rage seems to be on the rise and it turns even sane people into crazed lunatics at times. My friend drives the city bus and he recently saw a chase which ended in a shoot out. So yes, gun play can be involved as you say. It still baffles me how people can drive so ridiculous they throw common sense out the window.

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    1. You can say that again. Road rage is only going to get worse.

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    2. Road rage seems to be on the rise and it turns even sane people into crazed lunatics at times. My friend drives the city bus and he recently saw a chase which ended in a shoot out. So yes, gun play can be involved as you say. It still baffles me how people can drive so ridiculous they throw common sense out the window.

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    3. Thanks for letting me say it again. ;)

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  12. So far I haven't been involved in road rage, but I've heard from friends that it's not fun, not to mention so dangerous. I do have my raging moments when people don't give a turn signal! I'm kind of like that dog in the meme, but I don't shout it out the window.

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    1. Seems a lot of us take after the dog in the meme. ;)

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  13. There was sort of scary incident after I treated my mother to the movies last year. Guess when you watch Mockingjay Part 2 the drama finds a way to seep into real life. My mother drove straight to the police station when it was clear this guy wanted to get into some kind of fight. He was following us until we neared the station. My mother filed a report but the guy never came near the station or us. Whoever he is he's not our problem anymore.

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    1. Thank goodness there was a police station nearby! And that this guy stopped following.

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  14. Wow, great post, Chrys! Inspiring as well as compelling...
    First in a long line of cars stopped at a red light on a sweltering afternoon, she really just wanted to be home already. Her foot hovered over the gas pedal as the light changed and the car in the turn lane jumped over, bumped her truck and sped on through the light. fearing the wrath of her husband for not getting a license plate number, she gave chase with a hand on the horn until the driver pulled over, three blocks later. As a sizable man emerged from the compact car she hastily jotted down the plate number and took a shaky breath. Her heart lurched when four other large males squeezed out of the car. She frantically pressed the window button, wishing the glass would roll up faster as the men approached both sides of her truck. The driver peered angrily into her window as she raked into reverse at full speed, then darted into the flow of rush-hour traffic. To her chagrin, she later discovered that the small car had not left so much as a scratch on the truck!

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    1. That was amazing! You utilized tension and fear very well. And humor. I chuckled at the end. :D Loved it!

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    2. Aw, thanks! But I don't recommend anyone try that at home ;-)

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  15. I love car chase scenes. I've got one in Danger, where they drive over the embankment and into the ocean. But since they're dolphs, there's no real danger, at least to them:)

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    1. Oh my gosh! That sounds exciting. I need to read Danger! ;)

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  16. I wrote one car chase. Never been in one, thank goodness. Your tips are great. When my heroine lost the chaser in expressway traffic, she was so pumped full of adrenaline that she would've "levitated" if not for the seatbelt. Then there was the let-down making her totally exhausted. I'll definitely use some of your tips for the next car chase.

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    1. The adrenaline is important. I'm surprised I didn't mention that.

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  17. I don't recall ever having been in a car accident, though a few rude people have tried to start confrontations in parking lots because I "stole" a spot, accidentally put a tiny, barely-noticeable scratch in their car door when getting out, or parked in an allegedly handicapped spot which wasn't even marked. The woman who claimed I "stole" her spot told me that was so un-Christian of me, and I informed her I'm not Christian. I resisted the urge to give her a lecture on how Christocentric it is to assume everyone belongs to the majority religion and that it's pretty offensive and beyond archaic to use the word "Christian" as a synonym for goodness.

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    1. People can get so hot-headed behind the wheel for the littlest things. I also hate how Christians use "Christian" as a synonym for good. I mean she wasn't being very Christian-like yelling at you.

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  18. I witnessed a road rage once and that was frightening enough.

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  19. I haven't witnessed really horrible road rage, but my husband get road rage-ish. Thankfully if we have our son in the car, he contains it to silent gestures, but he has scared some of our friends with his outbursts at bad drivers over the years. I can only imagine what he's like when he's by himself in the car!

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    1. Haha! That's funny! I've jumped and gaped at my family when they go through the throes of road rage. lol

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  20. Ann road rage, this happens daily. I have been known to say a few words and a couple of hand signals. My husband is worse in the rants. I was in a road rage incident...involving my mother. I was a young teen, maybe 13 and she was driving. we were travelling home and she passed his pick up truck. the pick up passed us and then slowed way down. my mom, being my mom, mentioned he was a nut, and passed him again. this time, the nut, came right on our bumper so my mom slowed down thinking he will pass but he didn't, he just slowed furthers down. my mom sped up and then he did and drove passed us but almost knocking off us the road! my mom got so angry she started to speed up to catch him and I told her that I was in the car and that it is not wise to catch up to that nut. she finally realized safety was best and let the nut go.

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    1. Good thing you spoke up. Road rage can be extra scary for kids.

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  21. Great tips! I might use these for my WIP.

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  22. I actually was in a road rage situation once. The guy behind me was so angry, he raced to get in front of me and then slowed to a near stop. Just to piss me off? I kind of thought it was funny, though. (Not what he was going for.)

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    1. Nope. Probably not the reaction he wanted.

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  23. My crazy ex-boyfriend hit the vehicle I was driving in seven times, breaking my spine in two places. So I'd say that's a yes. ;)

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    1. Oh my gosh! That is horrifying. Do you have a rod or fusion? I have both.

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    2. Neither, but I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. My spine had healed before they figured out what was wrong with me.

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    3. If it healed on its own and you have no problems, I guess it's a good thing.

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  24. I don't know if you call it road rage, it probably was, but I once had a truck driver who obviously was late on a delivery try to push me faster and faster in a construction zone--and giving me the finger for not going faster (and I was still going over the posted speed). I called the police as I knew I was coming on the state line and a weight station.

    As for a chase, you can't beat the Blues Brothers...

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  25. I have a car chase in my current WIP. This was helpful.

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Please tell me what you think. I love to chat! :)

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