How to Write a Car Crash


Part One

  1. Are you writing in first person or third person?
  2. »A.It depends on what sort of emotional response you want to gain from the audience. Do you want us to be sad? Do you want us to be angry?

  I.   You can describe the scene through the eyes of someone who is surprised, confused, etc. and doesn’t know what is going on. That could be achieved in first-person or third-person narrative. You could also describe the scene through the eyes of a bystander.

Example 1:  Rachel didn’t know that day it would cost her license, and potentially her life. She was on her way to her boyfriend’s house. She was unaware he planned on proposing to her. Clearly, plans have changed. Now, he is driving to the scene of her car crash.

    »B.You’ll most likely want readers to focus on the immediacy of the scene, to feel the crash as the character is feeling it.

  I.        If in first person, describe the suddenness of it. The first person narrative is mainly for the dramatic physical effect. This viewpoint would focus more on the experience of getting knocked around inside a piece of twisted metal.

  II.      However, third person isn’t as dramatic. You could be technical, going through and listing what smashed into what, who was at fault, how everyone reacted and reports the injuries. You could write about what each one is thinking right as the cars collide.

Example 2:   As Scott makes his way to his girlfriend Rachel, I might as well tell you what happened. You know, to get you up to date. Well, today is Friday and many people are out and about. Rachel hadn’t seen her boyfriend in a while and was putting on makeup, when she ran a red light. That’s when a huge Toyota truck rammed into her passenger’s side. Her little car rolled over several times, breaking glasses and inflating the safety bag. Her head made contact with the cement ground not a moment later. Currently, blood is pouring out of her noggin. Poor thing. I was watching the entire accident. I even recorded it if you want to take a peek.


    »C.Further information about the different viewpoints.

  II.       Take advantage of third person by having the state police interview witnesses to the accident. You could give one – three varying accounts to add suspense to why or how the accident happened depending on the rest of your plot.

  III.       First person is tricky. Don’t have the character notice useless details that one would most certainly not pay attention to in the middle of a car wreck, such as “the van that hit us was bright red”. At the spike of adrenaline, the mind just doesn’t have room for those trivial things. Make sure to describe the feelings of being jostled about, preferably without actually saying “jostled about”.

Example 3:  

“Actually, ma’am,” the policeman said to me, “We can use your recording in court.”

“Oh no, is Rachel going to go to jail.”

“It seems to be that way from your eye witness. She caused a terrible scene.” The police patted me on the back and walked away after thanking me for the help.


Part Two

  1. Talk about how the character’s senses are compromised. Once the accident occurs, what can he/she see, hear or smell. Write it as expressively as possible.
  2. »A.Make it gruesome if you really want to impact the reader. This is a very significant event in your novel. It might even be the climax of the story. 

  I.        People in such a situation see things occurring in slow motion probably due to extreme heightened awareness.

  II.      Car accidents smell. For instance, the engine might smell of coolant if the radiator has cracked. And the air-bag propellant will be a burnt-chemical smell. There can also be a smell of fire and gasoline.

  III.       After the crash there is a moment of silence, extreme silence like a piercing sound in your ear silence. The crash itself is very disorienting. It’s loud. Everything becomes still and quiet right after the impact.

  IV.       After the noise is where the hectic chaos begins. Questions might run through the character’s head. Like, who’s alive, who’s been thrown? Is someone missing? I can’t feel my leg or my arm. The man who hit you is still alive and wants revenge? Why does it seem so dark?

Example 4:   It was obvious she had a hard time with facing reality. The moment Rachel got out of the car, she nearly fell over, dizzy. Her head looked like it hurt; good thing there was people around to help her. I, on the other hand, wanted to keep my distance. The smell of fuel leaking from her car didn’t help the situation much. I had to cover my nose in order to breathe properly. That’s when I saw it. Her arms were bent in a weird position. I was confused by how it got that way, but it didn’t look pretty. Though, she was yelling alright. The pain must have been too much for her to bear.



Part Three

  1. Talk about the injuries they get.
  2. »A.There is a sense of tranquility and pain only kicks in after the event.

  I.     A character will be in shock for quite a while. Even when the paramedics are trying to them. They can’t even feel your injuries at first because of the shock. But they will try to get it together for the police who need information to fill out the accident report.

  II.       Think about it. Car accidents happen fast. One moment you are cruising along, and the next second a driver in a jaguar jumps the lane and hits you head on. If the airbags deploy, smoke rises from the dashboard so it seems like the car might be on fire.  Thus, shock will inevitably happen.

  III.       Being in a bad car wreck is like waking up in a strange place. Everything stops and nothing makes sense. The character will see blood but can’t even tell where it’s coming from. It can take hours for that shock to fade. It isn’t until the next day before you realize how lucky you are. This is when you can start to tell what the injuries are.

Example 6:   Before she could even take a step in the ambulance, Rachel fell to ground and had a seizure. Hmmm, serves her right, too, for stealing my man. Scott Maky was always my lover and I warned her she will get what she deserves. I was the one that distracted her and caused her to run the red light. You see, Rachel is stupid, but not that stupid to be putting on makeup while driving. Because of this, I manipulated the situation to my benefit. Now, Scott is all mine and no on else’s…. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll take good care of him. HAhahahahaha!


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