Look out! Danger Ahead

Writing dangerous action scenes can be sooooo much fun. When I write them I tend to type too fast, shift POV about a thousand times and give typo’s a front row to the show. Exciting scenes are my favorite. Once written, I will go over them a few more times to make sure it all makes sense, pluck out the filter words, fix POV and correct the abundant typos. Often I will have someone or more than one someones read the scene to ensure it makes sense.

Action, danger, excitement or fast moving scenes can be anywhere in the story. If it’s early or at the start more descriptions and introductions might be necessary. If it’s after the characters have been established then focus can be more on story and character.

I said before I was going to give Sasha one more kick (The wildcard) before moving on with her story. The kick was received, she’s thoroughly distracted by her boss’s weird assignment and her mother’s interference. Now it’s time to throw Sasha to the wolves and find out what she’s made of.

Sasha pulled her keys from the ignition, saw movement in her side yard and froze. Was it Baylor? Was he back to finish the job?
“If it’s you I need proof.” Locking her car doors with shaking hands, she put the keys back in the ignition leaving the engine off, but headlights on. She fished out her phone and put it on video. The movement came again and she hit record. Was he waiting for her to get out of the car?

The man stepped from the bushes beside her house. Baylor. With flaring nostrils he moved slowly and deliberately toward the car. His lips pulled back in a sneer baring his teeth. Sasha nearly dropped the phone as she turned the engine over. He dashed for the locked door; a flash of silver in his hand. Gun?

Screaming she dropped the phone after a good close up of his face and a car key. She slammed the car into reverse as the lock clicked off. He pulled the door open. She screamed again and backed into the small tree at the edge of the driveway. Her head hit the headrest hard. She shifted to drive, turned toward Baylor and floored it. The jostle of the car driving over his body urged another scream from her. Not looking back she made it to the main road, managed to retrieve her phone from the floor and dialed 911. She ignored the fact that she was breaking a couple of laws.

She saw the oncoming car just in time and swerved back to her side of the road as tears blinded her. She pulled over skidding into the ditch with a thud as the phone picked up. “You have reached…

She cried out in frustration. “You’re kidding me! An automated message!” an operator picked up after several seconds. “Nine one one, what is your emergency?” The car she nearly hit had pulled over and stopped.
“Baylor, He’s at my house.” She yelled. “He had a key, I hit a tree.”
“Are you injured ma’am?”
“No. no he’s at my house again.” She sounded insane, and wasn’t making sense. So much for calm and collected under pressure she thought.
“What is your address ma’am?”
Sasha gave her address as the car behind her opened the door. Was it Baylor? She wiped her tears and locked her doors again. “Like that will help.” She was blinded by tears and the lights of the car behind her. She was ready to try to drive away if necessary.
“Are you in danger?”
“Yes I drove away, he’s there I hit him.”
“You assaulted someone?”
“Car, yes I hit him with my car. He was there he had a key.” She saw the mans face. Cal. “Cal.” She said with too much relief. “Cal!” She said louder and opened her door,  911 operator forgotten. “Cal.”
“What the hell Sasha, you nearly.” He stopped when he saw her wide-eyed makeup streaked face.
“Baylor, Baylor.” She pointed back at her house. “I called 911. I hit him and a tree. He had a car key.”
Cal grabbed her phone. “Get in my car.” He leaned into hers and put her four-way indicator lights on.“Huh, the airbags didn’t go off.” He identified himself to the 911 operator and explained what little he knew. He unclasped his holster and got back in his car. Sasha was shaking and wiping her makeup filled tears on her sleeve. He turned his car around and sped back to her house and stopped on the road.

“Stay here Sasha, do not open the doors and stay out of sight. Take the phone and talk to the operator, tell her what happened in order and as best you can until I get back.”
Sasha nodded, took her phone and crawled into the back of the car as Cal closed his door and moved swiftly, his gun drawn.

It seemed like forever before Cal returned. The operator calmed her down and got her story. The operator told her to stay on the line even though the police cruiser arrived and the officers got out of the car. She stayed out of sight, but they knew she was there from the 911 operator. She jumped at the knock on the window.

Cal looked down at her, she unlocked and opened the door. He took her phone, let the operator know the scene was secure, thanked her and ended the call. “Baylor got away. He’s hurt and bleeding so that’s helpful. Did you hit him on purpose?”
“Yes.” She frowned. It was a horrible thing to do no matter how bad it was. “I knocked him down when I backed up. Then I drove over him.”
“Well that explains what I saw. Forensics is on the way. You’ll need to make another statement, as will I.”
“Am I in trouble?” Sasha looked at her shaking hands.
“For what?”
“Driving while on the phone, crashing… twice and hitting him?”
“I think we can overlook the phone and crashing. You hit him in attempt to escape.” He held his hand out for her and she took it exiting Cal’s car. “This is officer Jenkins, he will take you account and then we’ll go to the station.”

She nodded and answered Jenkins’ questions. When she mentioned the phone footage Cal took her phone out of his pocket and opened the video. After watching he emailed a copy to the Chief and one to himself and his cellphone, in case anything happened to her phone. Jenkins told forensics to take the phone and process it. He gave Jenkins her car keys after retrieving her laptop, file and purse from her car.
“You can’t go home tonight.”
“But.”
“No buts Sasha.” Cal put her belongings in his trunk and got in to drive her to the station. She was in shock and numb for now, that wont last long he thought.
“Bail is stupid.” She said after a long silence.
“Your protection lost you earlier. I was on my way to check on you when you nearly hit me.”
“Sorry. I was acting recklessly.”
“Understandably.” He could still hear her screams from the video. “When we catch him he wont be getting bail ever again.”
“Why were you coming to check on me?”
He had no intention of telling her the full truth. “Your phone was going to voicemail and it’s my job.”
“Oh, my mom was driving me crazy about, never mind I turned the ringer off. How did Baylor get away?”
“He dragged himself bleeding to a car that was parked at your neighbours. I missed him by seconds.”
Sasha bit both lips between her teeth, had she not been a lunatic Cal might have gotten to Baylor sooner.
“Don’t do that Sasha, don’t start questioning your actions. You handled that very well.”
“Oh? I’m a mess, I nearly killed a man then you maybe even myself. I couldn’t string together a coherent sentence and.” She started crying again. “I’m being pathetic.”
“I’m serious Sasha stop it. You had enough wit to get proof he was there, you got away and safely. Nearly doesn’t count. Yes he got away, but so did you.”
She didn’t respond and stayed silent all the way to the station. She gave her statement quickly. Cal suggested to do it now while it was fresh and scorched in her mind. What he meant was to give it before reality set in for real.

Whew, what fun that was to write. It would be silly to have her handle the situation gracefully and with too much logic. People are not perfect and can be erratic when terrified or hurt. People need to have stupid moments to have stupid things happen to them. Lucky for me the writer and the readers, stupid makes for some awesome danger. On the other side of that Sasha is the protagonist, the one that has already been kicked and spat on thanks to some mean writer 😉  So to have her fail miserably and be the complete victim would be ultra boring and annoying to the reader. For now, because she isn’t ready to be the total hero yet, I gave her a mix of bravery, resourcefulness, stupidity and panic-blindness.

My advice about danger.
Normal everyday people are not used to action, violence or real danger. If a character is untrained civilian, let them freak out a bit and don’t forget to let them shine a little too. 

-Sheryl

Other intense posts

It’s a love hate sort of thing

Don’t rush me!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Scorched

Paint a desperate picture

There comes a point in writing when we need to induce stress in our readers by making our characters live it. Whether it’s a timeline crunch or a race to stop something horrible from happening. Showing the reader how the characters react and handle these situations will establish them further in their mind and hearts.  After as a writer I want people to love and hate my characters as much as I do. Making someone desperate and afraid is a great way to induce stress. 

Some sources of stress

Work/co-workers
Work deadlines
Family
Friends
Money – usually the lack of
Peer pressure
Self degradation
Illness
Threats
Blackmail/Extortion/Bribery
Holidays
Politics
Impending Danger
Active danger
I’m sure there are many more but I just wanted to suggest a few. Now, building tension and or stress is important. These are the moments, the foreshadows for something fantastic or important to the story. This is where I try to set my readers on the edge of their seats or at least be less willing to set the book down. Just one more page… The holy grail of writing, hooking the reader. This is important for many reasons. Good story telling, keeping the reader interested and dazzling the reader so they go and talk about the book to/with others and again, there are more reasons, but these are my primaries.
Stress can go hand and hand with desperation. The more stressful the situation, the more desperate a person can become. Whether the stress is real or mythical doesn’t matter, as long as I express it well. 
To do this I select a moment before the proverbial shit hits the fans. I start to ramp up the tension. This doesn’t necessarily have to be done through the protagonist. It can be anyone in the story thus far. I don’t suggest introducing a new character to create tension at this point, use someone established that has a report with the protagonist or even antagonist. If the reader likes my characters enough then they will be invested to find out what’s going to happen next. 
Cal dropped the keys, cursed and fumbled to retrieve them from the car floor in the dark. With seat-belt on and car finally started he sped out of the parking lot. 
“Dammit.” Sasha wasn’t answering her phone. His cell rang and he answered with his hands free. 
“Thorn.”
Thorn it’s Deputy Chief Jones. Miller filled me in. I have some bad news. Baylor Crowen lost his tail too.
“What!” Cal gripped the steering wheel tight as he stopped at a red light. All he asked was for eyes on both Baylor and Sasha.
The judge ruled him low risk, nobody believes he’s the guy disfiguring those women.
That was no excuse for lax officers. Cal took a deep breath avoiding a string of expletives that would get him reprimanded. “I’m on my way now to check on Miss Parsons.”
Thorn, if he’s not the guy then she’s in no danger.”
The muscles in Cal’s neck went taught as his stomach jumped. “I know it’s him. I’m going to check on her anyway.”
Do what you need to Detective. I agree with you, I think Crowen is guilty.
Cal pushed the speed limit. The Chief’s wishy-washy stance annoyed him as much now as it did earlier. A million scenarios played out in Cal’s mind. All of them berating him for not insisting Sasha have better protection. His gut and logic told him that Baylor was the guy. Sasha pissed Baylor off and he could easily get to her. She wasn’t taking this seriously enough and thought that being followed by a police cruiser was enough. 
“Thanks Chief. I’ll report in if I find anything out of the ordinary. It wouldn’t make sense for Crowen to try anything now.”
I agree. I’ll send the cruiser over to her place as well.”
“I’m almost there Chief.”
Okay then, keep me posted.” The call ended, Cal pursed his lips and flexed his white knuckled fingers. What a mess.  
The oncoming car approached too fast with their high-beams on. Cal would have to let them go by, he had more pressing matters than a car speeding. When the car swerved into his lane he steered to avoid. 
“Son of a.” Cal held his breath as the car righted at the last moment. He watched in his rear view as it careened into the ditch hard. “Of all the dammed, stupid things.” He u-turned his car around, drove closer to the ditched car and pulled over. He put his four-ways on, shook his head and got out of his car. He had to check on the idiot driver and probably arrest them. He took his phone out of his pocket to call it in and for back up. Now he was delayed for checking on Sasha who was just down the road. As he got a closer look at the vehicle, his heart skipped a beat.
“I know that car.” Cal moved fast toward the car as the driver got out.
With Cal’s nervousness, frustration and anger muddled with regret, he paints a desperate picture. Sometimes lack of judgement or complacency can lead to some pretty fantastic situations imagined or real.  The trick here is to use what I call anxious words or movements, nothing calming or ordinary. 
My advice about inducing stress.
Watch the trigger words, keep it tight and avoid filler words and wordiness. Less is more and will generate a better sense of urgency if the reader isn’t lost in a sea of description or narrative.
-Sheryl
Other stressful posts
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Mythical