How to Write a Running Scene

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Part One

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  1. Make sure the location is already familiar to the audience before this scene. You might find it easier.
  2. »A.You can either give basic details or full blown description.

I.   Refer to certain places or landmarks before, that way they’ll paint a clearer picture than if you’re constantly stopping to describe the places the character’s running through.

Example 1: The same store was located on Elmert Street for fifty years. It stayed open 24/7 with numerous entrances to take in the numerous shoppers. I went there on occasion. Today happened to be different. Up ahead, the city’s biggest store outlet with greenery planted as far as the eye can see, and where all the citizen’s shopped for the holidays. Only ten more days for Christmas and everyone, including John May, was excited. John May, a grumpy man, who some say was crazy, never got along with anyone, especially me. We were born to be enemies and nothing would change that.

    »B.Tell the reader why the character is running early on, especially if you’re opening up the story with this scene.

I.  Could it be that a monster is after them and they need to get to safety quick? Or maybe it’s a cold-blooded murder that has no remorse after killing the character’s friend.

 
II. Another reason the character could be running is because they heard some good or bad news and they need to get to the place to hear further details? Overall, you decide.

Example 2:  

Walking my way over to the outlet, I notice a crowd gathering. Now, I happened to be pretty far but the sight was plain obvious. People from the Elmert Street store came rushing out to see for themselves.

“What’s going on?” I asked a stranger.

“Someone had a heart attack and they’re waiting for an ambulance.”

“Oh my god. Who?” I covered my mouth.

The stranger smiled. “John May.”

Gasp! Was my wish coming true? If he died this could be an early Christmas present. “I got to get over there,” I said, stretching my limbs and preparing to run. The outlet had to be half a mile away at least but this would be worth it. I needed to take pictures. If John May, the man who tortured me as a kid, called my mom names and made my young life a living hell, was finally about to die, then I had to see this. I just had too.

 

**

Part Two

  1. Make the reader feel connected to the character.
  2. »A.Have the reader empathize with the pursued – rather than the pursuer.

I.    Add more of how the character feels, their emotions and what they’re thinking; it will really emphasize the reality of this danger situation.

 
II.   Make the reader feel the protagonist’s fear. Keep things firmly from their point of view. Think of all the little details they might see when rushing by, the physical sensations of running from someone or something dangerous.

 
III.   How does he/she know the chaser is still behind them? What are the details of the threat? What is ahead of the character – what safe place are they trying to reach?

 
IV.   Imagine if the pursuer is so close the character can hear their breath! What about if the character inflicts injury on the pursuer? What about if it was the other way around? (How would this affect the rest of the chase?)

Example 3:  

I started running in the direction of the outlet. I hadn’t had a car so there was no point in me driving there. How could I anyway? My mind swarmed with so many questions. Did he die? Does this mean my life is going to be perfect now? Does he have children, if so are they going to sell if stuff because I want to? For a split second I actually had a heart and my eyes watered from the thought of someone dying. Or maybe that was just the wind since my feet were carrying me fast.

Pushing my arms back and forth, I jetted to my destination, jumping over small pot holes, dodging insects that wanted to suck my blood clean, and pumping my legs as fast as they could go. Once I made it to the greenery, I zoomed under the shades of trees as if I was soaring like an eagle on a mission. No way was I going to miss witnessing John lying on the ground vulnerable. I just hope no one tries to help him up. Even worse, I hope the E.R. doesn’t make it in time. Yeah, yeah, yeah, call me a jerk all you want but if you what John May did to not only me but the whole town, you’d be wishing far worse things for him, too.

The crowd was getting bigger; so many people were taking pictures and staring at what lied in front of them: a cold body; a bitter man; a lone ranger.

My breathing was labored, my legs were tired and the wind was just torturing my eyes. I wiped away several tears; not because I was crying. Don’t twist the truth!

 

    »B.Write the chase out as a sequence of events, almost like mini-scenes.

I.    First list what happens before you start writing, then you’ll always know where you’re heading.
 
II.   Adding events to a chase will increase the action and suspense. Be sure not to go overboard, though – it might end up sounding comical.

Example 4:   Then I saw it. The ambulance came rushing around the corner with their sirens on. Not good. I only had a few more thrust until I made, or so it seemed. I had to get to Mr. May before they did or I’d never forgive myself. I needed to see the miserable face of his, I need to soak it in for years to come.

**

Part Three

  1. What is the end result? What happens to your beloved character?
  2. »A.Choose a way she is saved. Either by sheer luck or ingenious planning?

I.    The pursuer can’t all of a sudden become tired, that is a lame way to get out a scene. However, if the pursuer is human they can’t show signs of fatigue. Maybe slowing down, breathing heavier or stopping momentarily to catch their breath. Meanwhile the protagonist is zigzagging, trying to get out of sight. Or, they could be banging on someone’s door for help.

 
II.    Don’t resort to Deus ex Machina. This means a random being or object just pops out of nowhere to save our frightened character. The reader will not like that. So, to avoid this I would recommend foreshadowing. Let’s say three blocks ago the character saw a knife on the ground (for some strange reason). Then maybe they can run all the way back to that particular block to go get the knife. To matters even more interesting would be if the knife wasn’t there anymore.

 
III.  Try not to reveal the ending through the character’s thoughts. You can give hints but don’t overwhelm the reader with random, unnecessary insight.

Example 5:  

Three more leaps and I made it. I threw my arms in the air for victory. Without much thought, I pushed people to the side, to get through the throng and over to John May. Not too long later my eyes beheld him, lying on the ground, stiff just like I imagined. The second I whipped out my phone to take a picture of him, his eyes opened and he stared straight at me.

“Joe,” he said, slowly, “I’m sorry.” And then he took his last breath. Soon the paramedics came in with a stretcher to collect the body. I didn’t know what to think. Many people were staring at me, wondering why Mr. May said what he said. I just shrugged my shoulders; I was in the same boat they were in.

 

    »B.Will this be the end or will there be a twist?

I.    You can add the fact that the chaser is working with someone else and he/she going to get the protagonist one way or another.

 
II.    Maybe the protagonist is actually a murderer who was running away from someone who wanted revenge.

 
III.   Adding a twist is not necessary, however, for a chase scene, it does make things more interesting. Maybe you can leave out the reason why the character is getting chased until the final sentences of the scene.

Example 6:  

I crossed my arms. Joe wasn’t even my name so why did he say it to me. My name was Trevor, everyone knew that.

“Trevor!” I heard a voice call out. “What was that all about.” It was my friend Jamison. He hated Mr. May almost as much as I did.

I began to walk away from the scene just like everyone else was. “I don’t know,”  I said a bit irritated. “But, why do you think he had a heart attack?”

Jamison furrowed his eyebrows. “You don’t know?”

I shook my head. “What are you talking about?”

 Jamison leaned over to whisper in my ear. Not a second later I backed away from him out of fear. “Tell me it isn’t true,” I shouted.

Jamison came up to me and put a solid hand on my shoulder. “You didn’t know what you were doing. You were sleep walking,” he said calmly. “No one has to know what really happened, okay?” A devious smile crossed his face. “One thing’s for sure…” he looked around to make sure no one was listening, “Mr. May deserved it.” Then he laughed an evil laugh. 

**



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2 Comments

  1. CAN SOMEONE HELP ME CONTINUE THIS SCENE? I GOT AN IDEA BUT DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEVELOP IT:

    She has amnesia yet chose to move on over figuring out who was. She has Ptsd she can’t recall incident but after a attack she met a man who scarily resemble the one in her head (This guy did actually hurt her btw but he wasnt in control of his actions in the slightest at the time. The duo were actually strong partners in a platonic sense). After he body tackled her out of the way of an attack he was trying to stop she noticed him and freaked out and is running from him and her old teammates thinking he is out to kill her or something. I haven t really mentioned what he looks like in this (his name is Bryar) and there are four other people with him.
    Feel free to change or exchange for your version. Plausible spring up panic/ ptsd attack would be appreciated but not minded. Thnx!

    “Let me paint you a picture. The heart of a bustling city; the air awash with the smell of coffee and the sight of hundreds of people on the warm summer day. Now imagine this scene blurring past in an adrenaline infused dash of colours. A stray fiery haired woman, tall and lithe with bright hazel eyes, hurdle over a florist display and force themselves through the current of people in a bid to escape their pursuers. This is Veronica, and she isn’t alone. A glance back revealed her pursuers, her focus mainly on a tall man in blue with blonde near-silver hair. His piercing blue-grey eyes swept the crowd and fixed on her. Then she was facing forward and weaving through tables of an outside cafe.”

    • What is the goal of the scene? The outcome? What do you want to happened to both the main characters and then decided the steps to get there.

      Maybe he catches up to her while the others run in different directions. He tries to convince her it is “him” a friend and she temporarily remembers but then starts to scream and he lets her go.

      What obstacles do you want in the way and how are they affected?

      Maybe there is people that are in the way and this man knocks them over to get to the woman. In turn, the woman sees this and becomes even more afraid. Now, she knocks down garbage cans and yells for help because she is convinced he is evil.

      Or maybe the pursuer is kind to the people he passes and even helps an old lady across the street by carrying her on his back real quick. The woman running away sees this and has second thoughts. She probably even slows down to watch him do this kind act.

      What is the map of the scene?

      Have an idea of where you want the chase to go. Through the park, through a mall and then at a random lot. Or all on one long street. This is important because the readers need to know why is she still running instead of simply hiding or getting in a taxi.

      For example: Melinda ran fast to the taxi in hopes of making a quick get away, but by the time she got an inch from the rear of the vehicle, the street light turned green and taxi sped ahead real fast, leaving an inhale of smoke for poor Melinda to endure. This gave the pursuer plenty of time to catch up, making Melinda even more panicked.

      Lastly, how useful are these other teammates?
      Do they distract, hinder or help “Melinda” get away faster by their blatant stupidity.
      Do they have tricks up their sleeves to catcher her quicker, like gadgets of some sort? Do these gadgets remind the woman of her past?

      Hope this helped!

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