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

Don’t rush me!

Time is always a factor and in life, time moves us forward. There are cues and things I can do as a writer to emphasize urgency of a time restraint or deadline.  I talk a lot about emotions because we are emotional beings. But how do you ramp up an already emotionally charged moment? Add a little urgency.

Prompting time with dialogue, setting or action is a fantastic way to draw a reader into the frantic moment. Make it edgy and subtle. To do this I try to keep the moment as real as possible. How do people act when under the gun? How do I react when time is a factor? People react differently and the characters in my book are no exception. If everyone did the same thing then the yawns would come out to play and the book becomes a dust collector.

Sasha shifted to the edge of her seat. The acid in her stomach a reminder of how important this advert was. She clicked the mouse and moved swiftly and swore. She had to start over after the client called and changed their request two hours ago.
“Shit.” Taking a deep breath, she undid the eighth mistake and tried again to adjust the watch’s shadow. Her eye twitched in time with the ticking clock on the wall as she bit her lip and leaned forward. The adjustment shifted too far to the left again.
“Why won’t you work?” Sasha stood abruptly sending her chair flying behind her as the door opened.
“Tick-tick Sasha, the client is downstairs already.” Amber grinned.
“Can you stall them?”
“Not a chance Empress Iceberg.”
Sasha turned her frustrated fury at Amber. “After all the dozens of favors I’ve done for you?”
Amber shrugged and left with a smirk.
“Ungrateful, slimy, sneaky little…” Sasha glanced at the ugly round clock. Tick… tick… “Sneaky.” Sasha’s eyes widened as she recalled the change of her desktop wallpaper. “Would she dare?” Sasha rushed to her computer and checked the settings. “Rotten trick.” Pursing her lips Sasha changed the edit sensitivity back to her preferred settings and finished with mere seconds to spare.

How stress is presented, matters. So I ask myself, is it important to have the issue spelled out immediately or can it be slowly unraveled in the moment?  Does it fit in the story or is it a side blurb to create tension or character establishment? Either way I try to close my eyes and imagine how someone looks frazzled before I commit it to words. This is the kind of behavior I would add to my character charts. Do they learn to deal better or is it a steady reaction that never waivers?

Cal checked his watch for the sixth time in half as many minutes. “Dammit.” He resumed his pacing and peeked at his watch as if the action would slow time and make her get there faster. He looked back at the double glass doors and ran his hands through his hair.
“Come on.” He threw his head back and when he looked again, Officer Emily Grady came through the doors and jogged down the marble tiled hall.
“Cutting it close.” Cal ushered her into the courtroom. “Judge Mersey is not a patient man. One minute more and we’d be banned from the courtroom.”
“I know, sorry Detective.”

 I find with tense moments language slips and actions become harsh and hurried. People often look up when frustrated and pull at hair or clothes. Breathing becomes an accent to the emotion and lips are pursed or bitten. Being frazzled or hurried can cause people to overlook the obvious and keep repeating an error or lose the ability to be rational. Sylvia was too focused on the deadline to examine the source of her problem. She blamed herself and couldn’t look beyond until she was interrupted and angered. Distracted from her anxiety she was able to regroup and move forward.

My advice about time.
Not every moment needs to be rush-rush, bite your nails tense. But when it is, make the most of the moment and put some stress triggers in. Remember to show the reader the moment not tell them about it.

-Sheryl

Older posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Banned
Unravel

Good or bad, they are driven by passion.

Passionate is a powerful word. It evokes an immediate strong emotional association with whatever it’s used with.

I wrote a passionate character, she runs high on whatever emotion she is experiencing and is so driven she is exhausting to write. Her passion for success is equal to her passion to be kind and fair. She is funny and frustrating and a wild ride of emotions. Her evolution is difficult and gradual. I try not to have people switch personality or suddenly become someone their not with no reason. (There is nothing worse than a complete mysterious out-of-place personality overhaul, unless it’s purposeful)

I enjoy researching personalities (An ongoing study). When it comes to passionate people there needs to be balance. Most everyone is passionate about something, but not everyone is passionate about the same things. This is important and can open up all kinds of opportunity for friction, argument or even violence. It can also aid in the growth and development of a character, and it is important, but it has to be believable.

I think of it this way, someone with a passion thinks about it often, and will bring it up whenever possible. Not just because they want to share, but also because they get a high from talking about something that riles them up. Someone with something to look forward to is likely the person to jump out of bed early – bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the world. I make sure my character that is overly passionate gets excited easily, because that’s real.

Passionate people are emotional people it goes hand in hand. Whether they are passionate about books, cooking, sex, drugs, fighting crime or committing it. Passion doesn’t always mean good, there are some people that are passionate about being racist and bigots or causing pain.

Often a person who feels so strongly about something will live it fully, devoting their lives to whatever has them up early and shouting it to the world. They are risk takers, when driven they might do anything to keep their passion alive or achieve a goal. Maybe Joe steps on Sasha to get his dream job. That would create all kinds of drama.

Someone who is strongly attached to a passion can shut down just as easily as they are revved up. Especially when they are denied or fall short of their goal. This can spark a downfall or renewed determination. I use this as a great way to allow the character to soul search and grow into who I want them to become or switch gears. This is key because a person who is or has experienced the power of passion is usually someone who thinks positively. The go-getter or the one that doesn’t let others wallow in defeat. They want them to feel the joy they get so they are motivating.

Taking someone from a train wreck to successful leader cannot happen overnight. It can’t happen without ups and downs and it can’t happen without passion and drive.

On the flipside taking someone from an unnoticed-high-achiever to betrayer and ultimately enemy, takes finesse and a more subtle approach to their brand of passion to destroy or take over.

My advice about passionate characters.
There is a fine line between passionate and obsessive. My passions seep into my life they don’t control it. Take a look at people that are passionate and driven, are they awe inspiring or so annoying? Don’t forget they need contrast, the apathetic counterpart that inspires frustration.

-Sheryl

Oops! What did I just say?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Passionate