How to Write a Car Chase


Part One


  1. First establish who, what and why they are in a car chase.
  2. »A.Don’t overwhelm the reader with details, just throw out the basics.

I.        Is your character a criminal and the police are after him/her? Is your character the cop and is after a criminal?  Or is your character simply out for a joy ride.

II.        What kind of cars are they driving? How fast are they traveling and how long have they been on the run?

Example 1:  I picked the worse day for a joy ride. Three cops were already on my tail, they have been staking out, trying to find an idiot who wasn’t following the speed limit. I happened to be that idiot. Yey, me. Good thing I borrowed my dad’s 2014 Toyota Camry. This bad boy could go miles without needing a refill on gas. That’s not what I’m worried about. My main concern happened to be the tires that were treading on these worn down streets. It’s been an hour since I got caught by the po-po, and quite frankly I think I’m going to get caught. I might as well throw in the towel now….Not!


    »B.Add dilemmas and consequences. The littlest things can impact your scene.

I.            Is there traffic up ahead? How about spikes that causes the tires to pop.

II.            More importantly, how much gas in their tank and how reliable is their vehicle.

III.            Maybe have the character accidentally drive into a wall or tree and it damages their car but they still keep going.

Example 2:   I turned the corner, nearly tipping the car over in the process. Damn! Up ahead was traffic. The big football game was today, no wonder the cops were staking out.


    »C.Are there any weapons involved? Bombs? Guns perhaps?  

I.            Guns and bombs can do a lot of damage to both humans and cars.  If you use these, this doesn’t mean the scene is over, it just means you have to show that using these weapons will affect the characters.

II.            What about the passersby? Do they record the car chase? If so, do they get harmed by the bombs or guns by accident? If the character is a criminal do they kill the pedestrians on purpose out of anger? Maybe run them over or shoot them.

Example 3:   I whipped the car around, nearly running into a tree and driving over a few pedestrians who were recording the chase. Just my luck, now I’m completely screwed if I get caught.


Part Two

  1. Now focus on the character specifically and their situation.
  2. »A.Here is the appropriate time to give back story, if needed.

I.     What is the character feeling at this moment? Did they plan to get into a car chase in the first place?

II.     Does the character have a victim with them, a hostage perhaps? Maybe the character is the good guy and they have a partner helping them chase the criminal.

III.     Add inner monologue or dialogue.  If the character has a hostage has them threaten them. If the character has a partner to help stop the criminal, then maybe have them argue about which way to turn, how slow the driving is, etc.

Example 4:  Oh god, I thought to myself, why did I do this. I was beginning to feel like a major idiot. I mean, a buddy of mine got into a heated argument about my girlfriend. That kinda pissed me off, you know. I needed some air, so I said ‘hey why not a joy ride.’ It was either this or jump off a cliff into water to blow off some steam. —What can I say, I’m a 17 year old boy, and I wasn’t thinkin’ at the time.

    »B.No one is alone in this world, so describe the situations on the outside and how the character manipulates his circumstances.

I.     During a car chase there will be red lights and pedestrians walking.  Does the criminal run the light and run over the poor victim like a speed bump?

II.      How about on the freeway? DO they speed up to 100 mph or more, or how about put the car in reverse and start driving backwards. Hey… it could happen.

III.      Does the character know any hidden back roads or turns?  Can their car change into a different color or transform?

Example 5:   Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning. There was a back road no one hardly goes down. Miles lane, the kids at school call it. Right now, I’ll call it Getaway Express, since that is my ticket to freedom. I don’t plan on going to jail today; I have my whole life ahead of me.


Part Three

  1. Is this on channel 8 news?
  2. »A.Does anyone else start chasing the criminal?

I.  Maybe a helicopter is flying overhead, recording the whole thing. A good twist would be if the helicopter is there to rescue the criminal. The criminal jumps outs of the vehicle only to climb up the helicopter stairs, leaving his car to drive by itself.

II.    Do more cop cars come to chase the criminal? Do they just mess things up or are they a big help.

III.     Are their citizens who help? Maybe up ahead there are cars purposely blocking the way. Maybe they throw food and whatnot at the driver’s window so he can’t see.

Example 6:  I quickly turn down the back road, preparing myself to be home free. But then, that’s when it hit me, I was screwed. Because of the big game people were walking down this road to the arena. Up ahead there were pedestrians like crazy, waving at me to stop, screaming, running away, and stupidly recording me. My car was at 70 mph down this road, if I didn’t stop now someone was going to turn into a pancake. Then, I’ll be screwed for sure.

    »B.Wrap the scene up.

I.      Does anyone die in the car chase? If so, how and was it on purpose or accident?

II.     Does the weapons (remember back in part one) stop the character/criminal and they are arrested?

III.    Ending the scene can be as simple as gas running out or a flat tire.

Example 8:  I stepped hard on the break not a second later. I made a long skid mark behind me and the cops had stopped and got out of their cars to point their guns at my car. Though the vehicle continued to roll. A little kid ran out in the middle of the road to grab his football and he was right in the middle of scene. “No!” I heard a woman yell. My car wasn’t stopping, the break wasn’t working. I think I might kill someone today because of my stupid decision.
The cops shot at my wheels, causing a flat to occur. The vehicle spun out of control, missing the kid and finally crashing into a brick wall.


    »C.You can make the character run for their life.

I.   Or, if you want, the character decided to get out of the car and start running. If you have ever watched a car chase on the news you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

II.     Last but not least, you can have the character (if they are the one being chased) can commit suicide by shooting themselves. Especially if they are coward. Just make sure you explain what happens to the car afterward. Is it searched for stolen money, drugs, a hostage? A good twist would be if the criminal doesn’t have anything whatsoever in their possession all along.

Example 9:   With the strength I had left, kicked the car door open and ran. Well, limp run, really. I didn’t get far. The cops yelled “Freeze” and I listened. I may not go to jail necessarily, but I’m definitely not getting a car for my birthday next week.


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