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January 12, 2015

Writing About: A Foot Chase


In my novella, 30 Seconds, my heroine is chased by the Mob. It is an exciting scene, and by far my most favorite. I wrote it in one sitting, at my kitchen table, while listening to "Attack" by Thirty Seconds to Mars on repeat.

For anyone who wants to write an exciting scene like this, I am providing ten things to keep in mind:

1.    Who is being chased?

This is obviously important, because your readers need to know who is in danger to get invested in the chase. Is your protagonist (hero or heroine) running for his/her life? Let us know immediately!

2.    Who is doing the chasing?

Who is chasing after your hero/heroine? You can’t write a foot chase and not tell your readers who is after your protagonist. Even if the chaser is a ghost or phantom, we still need to know about it!

3.    Why does the chase happen?

Answering this question is huge, because a chase just can’t happen out of the blue, for no reason at all. Readers need to know what leads up to the chase, why the character runs, and why he/she is being followed. Even if the why isn't known right away, you can lead up to the chase by adding suspense; the character senses someone is behind her.

In 30 Seconds, a lot happens before the chase, but one important detail is that Dani Hart, my heroine, finds out the Mob is after her, so when she sees them at her hospital, and hears them asking for "Dr. Hart", she makes a run for it but not before being spotted. And the chase begins.

4.    Where does the chase occur?

A chase can happen anywhere from inside a building or house, a parking garage, in the woods, or on the street. In 30 Seconds, the chase starts at the hospital, takes my heroine down a busy Cleveland road and into an alley.

5.    Fear

For any chase, you have to utilize fear! To run from someone you have to be afraid of them and afraid for your life. Make sure you share your character’s fear.

6.    Where is your character going?

Is your protagonist running with a destination in mind, or trying to escape by going anywhere and everywhere? My heroine actually considers diving into a Dumpster!

7.    Describe your character running.

Let your readers know about your character’s pounding feet, rising heart rate, and shortness of breath. All of this adds excitement.

8.    Senses

Try to include as many of the senses as possible when you’re describing the chase. Can your character hear the person (or people) chasing after him/her? What does he/she see? Does he/she feel sweat rolling down his/her back? The more senses you can add, the more your readers will connect with what's happening.

9.    Does something happen during the chase?

Foot chases are so exciting because more can happen than just running. Maybe your character is grabbed by the person chasing him/her, but manages to get away. Maybe guns are involved. Maybe your character trips and falls. (That’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s up to you what you do with the chase.)

10. How does the chase end?

Is your character caught or does he/she get away? And don’t forget to include what happens after the chase. Perhaps your character hides and then slinks out when he/she thinks the coast is clear. Does he/she go to the police? Consider every possible outcome and what you think would be best for your story.


Questions: Have you written about a foot chase in one of your stories?

Question from my blog tour: What would you do, and where would you go, if you were being chased by the Mob?


Unicorn Bell: I'm blogging over at Unicorn Bell today. This is my debut week as co-host, so I decided to re-blog 3 old posts that I believe many writers can find useful. Today's post is So You Want to Write Romance.



65 comments:

M.J. Fifield said...

I don't think I've ever written a true chase scene. A few scenes where the characters are running, though, mostly into danger.

"Attack" is a great chase scene song.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've had a running scene with people trying to get away, but they weren't being actually chased.
New site looks good! And links back here. Smart.

Pat Hatt said...

I've had them get away, but never a foot chase, as they usually take care of the bad guys or blow something up to stop the chase lol If the mob was after me I'd disappear into the woods

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys .. well done on the website. I've never written a foot chase - but I'd be hiding from the mob by now and would have shrunk dramatically!!

Cheers Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

I love it when characters run right into danger. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I think that counts though. Those two scenes have a lot on common.

Thanks, Alex! Yes, my blog is still going to be my most important tool. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Haha! Too bad my character didn't have a bomb to blow something up and get away. :P

Disappearing into the woods would be a good idea.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Hilary! I was nervous while making it, especially since it was a little tricky.

Unknown said...

great tips, and I love your website!! amazing job. I could never figure all that out on my own. My bro does everything with mine for me, which is awesome since I'd be lost if he didn't! it's super tricky stuff!

Carrie-Anne said...

Nice job with the website!

I think the most major chase scene I've written is in my hiatused WIP Lazarus Lost and Found, as 13-year-old Lazarus is passing through Kassel, Germany in the fall of 1944 and realizes he's being followed by people suspicious about who he is. He eventually finds refuge under a large veranda which narrowly escapes being searched (the house's owner unknowingly saves his hide), and the next day finds himself being followed again. This time he runs into a church and hides in a Confessional which turns out to have a hiding place in the floor, and once the Nazis have searched the church several times and then left, the priest tells him it's safe to come out and hides him for about two weeks, till he decides to continue on his way home.

Karen Walker said...

Some really good writing advice here, Chrys.

Sarah Foster said...

Congrats on the website! I don't think I've ever written a chase scene. I think my characters are usually running towards things, not away from them.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Great musical inspiration! I love Thirty Seconds of Mars. I put the song on as I typed this comment. I'm sure it really fueled your writing. Congrats on the website, too!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Karen!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Sarah! Oh, characters who run toward things are brave. I like them. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

So do I, Karen! They are my favorite band. :D

Thank you!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Beth! Like I said in the welcome message on my website...there was blood, sweat, and tears. A lot of tears because I was having a lot of problems with it. lol I wish I had someone to do everything for me. You're lucky!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Carrie-Anne!

That is an amazing chase scene! So much tension. I know I'd enjoy reading it...on the edge of my seat. ;)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have written some chase scenes, usually humans fleeing from alien monsters. Great list to remember.

Lisa Thomson said...

I loved that scene, Chrys! Dr. Hart was a wonderful character and tough! Great tips. I haven't written a chase scene but I may have to for my latest (on the shelf) novel where my heroine escapes from a mental hospital.

Unknown said...

I have written about a foot chase in one of my stories. It was a lot of fun to write. And if I were being chased by the mob? Heck. I'd probably hide out at the IRS since those guys are notorious for not paying their taxes!

Sherry Ellis said...

Good tips! I have written a chase in my book. I'll have to go back and make sure I have all of the senses engaged.

Hart Johnson said...

Funny. I'd never even thought about writing about writing them, but I have a couple chase scenes in A Shot in the Light (more than one on foot--one where my MC actually gets caught). I think decisions are big, too--some people are good at scanning and deciding, others are impulsive or intuitive, sometimes they are FAST, or have an advantage of knowing their environment, others they are smart or lucky. Keeping "how they get away" (if they do) consistent with character matters a lot.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Employing all of the senses is important. Plus all the effects on a body that is running.

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, that sounds like fun!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Lisa! I'm thrilled you liked that scene. It was my favorite to write. :) A heroine escaping from a mental hospital? That's sounds thrilling!

Chrys Fey said...

Chase scenes are fun to write!

HAHA! I love that, Quanie! Mobsters beware of the IRS! :P

Chrys Fey said...

Awesome, Sherry! I hope these tips help. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I've written a lot of chases in my stories, but I hadn't thought about writing about them until 30 Seconds came out. A character's decisions during intense moments are very important.

Chrys Fey said...

I agree!

Ava Quinn said...

Great tips, Chrys. As usual. :) And congrats on your website!!

Christine Rains said...

The new website looks fantastic! :) Great tips on writing chase scenes. They happen so fast, but there is a lot to keep in mind when doing them. I have written them. Usually fast and hard. If I was being chased by the mob, I'd go to the police or FBI/CIA. Let them put me up in an expensive hiding place. Hehehe!

VR Barkowski said...

Excellent tips. I've written a couple of foot chases. One in a flash fiction piece that took place on a deserted street at night, and one very long chase scene leading up to the climax of my first novel.

Not sure where I'd hide from the mob. I'd probably head to the airport and hop a plane to France. The mob might catch up to me, but I'd have a fab final few days. :)

The new webpage looks great. I tried to use Wordpress for my website, failed and ended up using idiot-proof Weebly

VR Barkowski

Trisha said...

I have a story that starts with a heart-pounding chase, but the why is only slowly revealed.

Congrats on the website - looking good!

Unknown said...

I don't think I could successfully run from the mob. I'd be better off raiding my Dad's gun cabinet.

Tammy Theriault said...

So much to consider!!! That's is amazing creative!!

Lana Pecherczyk said...

Wow, that's very thorough advice. It's funny I haven't really written a foot chase either, I've done car chase, but there are so many more senses to explore when you are on foot. I'll have to chalk this tip up in my writing to-do list for later. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Foot chases are really intense. I have one in an upcoming novel. I always hope for a get away whether I'm reading or writing one.

TBM said...

If I was being chased by the mob, what would I do? Cry. The mob scares me. Haven't written a foot chase, but I might be tempted now.

sage said...

I haven't tried to write a fictionalized account of a chase, but my favorite all time chase in a novel is found in Michael Malone's "Handing Sin." The chase between "good and bad guys" occur on Stone Mountain, Georgia and involve various means of transportation and I found myself laughing so hard I was crying when I read it. I've read it many times since. It is a hoot!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

These are always super-exciting scenes!! :)

Patsy said...

I've not written any chase scenes yet, but these tips should help if I ever do.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Ava! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Christine! Chase scenes do happen fast, which is why I love them. I'm a sucker for fast, action scenes. :) Going to the FBI/CIA would be smart!

Chrys Fey said...

Haha! Going to France would be nice. ;)

I went with Wordpress because I thought it would be easy...I was wrong. It was difficult. I had no idea how to use the site. I struggled for hours, which is why there aren't any sidebars. But I kind of like the uncluttered look, especially since I have two sidebars on my blog. :P

Chrys Fey said...

Starting a story with a chase and revealing the why slowly would actually be fun to read.

Thanks, Trisha!

Chrys Fey said...

Haha! If only I knew how to shoot.

Chrys Fey said...

And so much fun. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I plan to write a post about car chases but not anytime soon. You're right that on foot more senses are awakened and used. I'm glad you can use my tips, Lana! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I always hope for a get away too, but when a character is caught it gets even more exciting.

Chrys Fey said...

I'd cry too!

Chrys Fey said...

I'll have to read that book just to read that scene!

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, they are! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Awesome!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I've never written a foot chase, but I'll keep the tips in mind if I do. Love the website. Congratulations!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! :)

Li said...

I think chases are one of those situations where it's incredibly important to use "show not tell". I can recall a poorly written novel (no names) where the "chase" was so long and boring that I just couldn't finish reading it. The one time I wrote a chase scene, I was having difficulty so I tapped into a nightmare I had where a stranger was chasing me with a foot-long hypodermic. Once I started remembering how I felt, and my condition when I woke up (drenched in sweat, and I'd bitten my tongue) the writing flowed. :)

I couldn't guess which A to Z topic on my list you'd already chosen. Can't wait to find out!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Chrys. Thanks for the tips for writing chase scenes. I've written one where a terrified mother is racing around Los Angels, finding clues left by the kidnappers of her daughter. I think I've covered all your tips!

HNY Chrys!

Denise :-)

Romance Reader said...

Thanks for the awesome tips Chrys. I'm bookmarking this page and making notes...

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, showing is very important for chase scenes.

That makes me feel better than about my A to Z topic then. I hope not one else can guess it. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

That sounds so good, Denise! I could feel the mothers fear just by reading your comment.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome! :)

Natalie Marrujo said...

Love your posts!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Natalie!

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