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

Ow! That hurt!

I like to give my opinion and I like to share what I’ve learned. This time it isn’t necessarily about writing or style per say, it’s more of an individual observation on behavior. I try to envision what I’m writing about as I write and keep the scenario firm in my mind. The reason for this is believability. If it doesn’t look right in my mind, how can I expect it to play out in someone else’s?

Since there is action, violence and clumsiness in my stories, there is pain. It is a sensory response tightly tied to emotions and therefore is often an internalized experience and generally written the same way. But, what if I don’t want the POV inside my characters head? I look at others in pain. Yes I know that sounds weird, but its true. How do real people respond to pain? In the movies, the pain threshold is amped up a few notches for the Hollywood experience. So when someone is riddled with bullets and still carries on, that might not be realistic, but it’s fun to watch. But, is it fun to read? Maybe. It depends on how well it’s written.

Like with everything defining, I put my characters pain threshold in their bio. Some people are naturally tolerant to pain. Some take a bit to catch their breath and wits to continue on, while others will shut down until the pain ebbs enough to function again.  In addition, like with many other things, pain tolerance can be learned or they can develop a tolerance for it over time.

Aside from the obvious screaming, grunting, cries, profanities and “Ow! That hurt!” what else can we do to show pain? What are the physical indicators?

Grabbing the injured area swiftly
Sucking breath through teeth sharply
Pursing lips and moaning
Crying and tears
Sobbing
Wailing
Rubbing the affected area rapidly
Staring at the injury wide-eyed (Especially if blood is involved. I’ll talk about blood another time.)
Fainting
Falling to the ground(In various ways, also dependant on type and placement of injury)
Gasping for air (If wind is knocked out)
Blood, swelling or bruising
Broken bones (Best used if it’s an obvious or super disgusting break)
Stunned, Dazed or confused
Rapid breathing
Shaking hands

The people that shake it off would do just that. Shake a limb or even jump on the spot a time or two then move on.

Sasha admired the large bruise on her hip from being knocked to the ground earlier. She poked at it with her finger, sucked her breath in sharply and winced.

Cal ran over to the car. The woman in the driver’s seat was conscious, her right hand on her forehead and her left on her chest where the seatbelt dug in. He assessed her quickly asking her the standard questions as she gulped air and struggled to answer.

Anne walked with a slight smile to her lips, the sun warm on her face and a cool breeze brushing by. Her foot strayed too close to the sidewalk edge, her ankle gave way and she fell sideways to the ground. Landing hard on the grass, she cried out pressing her hands on her ankle.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow.” She blinked the tears from her eyes.
“Are you okay?” A tall man squatted beside her.
“No.” She swatted his hand away. “Don’t touch me it hurts!”
“Let me see, I can help I’m a nurse.” His soothing voice made her look up into his steel blue eyes. Reluctantly she gave him access.
“I’m Tony.” His gentle fingers pressed and ran across her skin.
“Ow! Anne.” She yelped and pulled her foot away when he pressed too hard.
“It’s not broken. Here.” He held his hands out. “Let me help you up Anne.”

The boy fell to the concrete with a dull thud. Sasha gasped along with a few others. He laid still as his mother knelt. He rolled over and sat up dazed and unsure why everyone was staring. He raised his hands seeing the scraped cut palms and red starting to surface near the tiny embedded pebbles and started wailing in earnest.

Sasha opened the new clients file, reached for the top page, it requesting a vegetal ‘feel’ for the advertisement and drew her hand to her mouth instantly. Sucking her finger, she scowled at the offensive page. She looked at the razor thin trench filling with blood as she pulled air through her teeth hissing at the wound.

These were tame everyday examples of immediate responses to pain. Obviously, there are other types such as acute from gunshot, stabbing, and broken bones.  Long-term pain can affect a person’s personality and even change them over time such as arthritis, improperly healed bones, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, Shingles, Fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines. These are just a few, adding this type of dynamic to a character can be beneficial to the cause as much as the character. If it’s not something close to you, do your research and talk to someone living with or near someone with chronic pain. Other types of reoccurring pain that can vary in intensity are menstrual cramps, labor and birthing, surgery, earaches and toothaches.

My advice about pain.
You can pretty much do anything you want to your characters and have them react in any way you want them to. From interesting, to predictable, to way out of left field. As long as you work it into the story in the same voicing you’ve been using all along it will add the ick factor or cringe moment that will make the reader want to know what happens next.

-Sheryl

Other sensory posts

Getting a little touchy feely

Did you smell that?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Vegetal
Heal

The jerk-face warrior

Jerks are people that aren’t necessarily the bad person. I think of jerks that are just contrary or mean without true malice. A self-serving person that is borderline if not a bully. I’ve read books where the protagonist complains about a jerk, but the jerk is either not a jerk or the writer doesn’t show it for it to be believable. Honestly if I want to believe someone is a jerk I want proof, I want the example and I want to agree fully with the protagonist. If I don’t then they lose credibility in my eyes. Show me an ass and I’ll dislike them as I was meant to.

Being mean doesn’t mean the person is bad. A good person or even the hero of the story can be a jerk on a good day. But hey that can lead to some interesting confrontation or dialogue.  If it’s really out of character then maybe it will lead to the revelation moment, when the past or truth is revealed.

 A jerk is condescending to someone undeserving.

Dale rolled his eyes at the barista. “This would be perfect if you’d made it correctly.”
Tittering behind her hand Amber nodded. “It’s too much to ask of the minimum waged.” She whispered loudly.

A jerk is often found giving backhanded compliments. 

Amber smiled sweetly. “The new company promo is out Sasha have you seen it?” “No, not yet.” Sasha smiled and looked at the printout Amber held.
Scott peered over her shoulder. “It’s a good picture of you Sasha, you look slimmer in it.”

A jerk insults someone close, like spouse or family member to/ in front of others.

Sasha took a deep breath and went back to the table. Her father and mother had invited friends, whom she’d never met. Mr. and Mrs. Welsh and they were already three glasses of wine in. The regret to come to this dinner was setting in just fine.
“Sasha darling you do take forever, your food is getting cold.” Her mother smiled and refolded her napkin on her lap.
“Sorry.” Sasha sat and listened to the idle pompous conversation of the wealthy as they ate. She should fit in, she was their daughter, but it wasn’t her cup of tea to boast and brag.
“What is it you do again Sasha?” Mrs. Welsh asked as she lifted her wine to her perfectly painted lips.
“I’m a senior graphic designer at Clifton-” The kick from her mother stopped her from continuing.
Her father smiled and cleared his throat. “Sasha hasn’t found her true calling as of yet. We are hoping she considers law or architecture. Something more respectful.”

A jerk takes food without permission.

Sasha sat at her desk and took out her pumpkin spice muffin. Amber strolled in without knocking and dumped a file on her desk.
“Ooh pumpkin. Yum.” Amber leaned over and pulled a piece off, popped it in her mouth and left.

A jerk brags or boasts.

Scott walked briskly out of Morrison’s office a deep frown on his face.
“What did he want?” Sasha asked as Amber stopped filing and stood beside Sasha. He stopped and pouted prettily then grinned broadly “Guess who got the promotion?” He raised his arms, closed his fists and pointed his thumbs at himself. “This guy, that’s who. Yup. I totally deserved it.”
Sasha plastered a small smile on her face and glanced at Tory, he deserved the promotion hands-down, not Scott.

A jerk leaves a mess behind.

Cal went to the lunchroom as Detective Poulson finished making his coffee.
“Morning Cal, how’s that Crowen case going?” Poulson spilled sugar then set the dirty spoon on the counter beside it.
“I’m heading over to the latest victims house in half an hour.” He held up a box of bagels. “I was just brining these in before I go.”
Poulson picked up his coffee and headed toward the door. “Let me know if you need any help, that prick needs to be locked up once and for all.”
“Will do, thanks.” Cal frowned at the counter as he set the box down and pursed his lips at the wet coffee ring, spilled sugar and dirty spoon. The cloth was less than a foot from the mess, as was the sink.

A jerk in inconsiderate.

Sasha indicated to take the parking space that was just becoming available. Before the car fully drove away another swerved around her and eased into the now vacant spot.
“Hey! I was here first.” She yelled at the driver as he hurriedly got out of his car.
“I’m in a hurry, sorry.” He waved at her absently and kept walking.

A jerk says inappropriate things.

Sasha and Valery leaned over the table looking at the proofs. “That is quite the view.” Scott leered at their backsides as he entered the room.

Amber closed the panel on the projector. “There. All fixed.”
Dale leaned back in his chair. “Not bad for a girl.”

Jerks do a lot more than what I described. Jerks or jerk moments happen, they can be ignored, addressed or confronted. They can be a minor or major part in the transformation of the protagonist or even the antagonist. Whether they start rumors, complain for no good reason, decline donations or contributing to a group gift or are undeservedly bossy, Jerks are necessary for creating conflict or tension, small or large. My husband calls people like this Jerk-face warriors.

My advice about jerks.
If and when someone pisses you off, think about why and what they did. Will that work in your story? I don’t recommend making it over the top in your face without provocation. Jerks are just simple small people that make life less pleasant and the work day just a wee bit longer.

-Sheryl

Other fun posts

Did you smell that?

Copyright © Copyleft

It’s funny you said that…

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Transformation