Chase Scenes... IN A CAR!

An early chapter of my novel has a car chase sequence in it.  I wrote the first draft while I was still learning how to drive and got too caught up detailing how a car is driven.

My lead became an extremely careful driver.  Both hands on the wheels, never coasting, always shifting up through all the gears and then downshifting correctly...

And who wouldn't in this speed machine!

Yeah, not very engaging.  There had to be a clear picture of what my character was physically doing, but not detailed descriptions every time she hit the clutch to change the gear.  I redrafted and focused on the horrible feeling of being chased, knowing capture meant death, racing, escaping, hurry, go faster!

The best way to know how to write a great chase is to watch some first.  Here's what to look out for:
  1. Lots of rapid shot changes.  You can do this with sharp sentences: Foot down.  Car speeding.  Engine growling.  Horns blaring. She checked her mirror.  Damn. She hadn't lost him.
  2. Blink-and-you-miss-it snapshots of the driver driving.  Gentle reminders to show the character in control.
  3. Occasional reminders of the speed.  It's a chase scene - the audience knows it'll be fast.
  4. Cutting between the "hero" and the "enemy".  Keeps up a sense of urgency.
  5. The wider impacts of the chase - forcing others off the road, fleeing pedestrians etc... 
Here are some of my favourite examples.

Quantum of Solace:

(Any excuse for a James Bond reference!!)

The Bourne Identity:

Watch them, think about what both scenes focus on (SPEED AND DESTRUCTION!!!), and see if you can mirror the pace in your own writing.

Have fun!

Oooh, and I totally treated myself for an epic weekend of writing:




  1. I looooove both of those car chases! :D I can't remember if I've ever read a car chase in a book. Huh.

    Also, yum, yum, yum!!

  2. Laura: I can think of a couple. One in the Young Bond book "Double or Die", which is AWESOME by the way. READ THAT SERIES NOW! The other was in a book part of a series and I totally can't remember which book it was. Aren't I helpful? :P

    I think they're relatively rare. They're not the easiest thing to convey with words.

  3. I have to say, I don't think I've ever read a car chase in a book, either but it'd be interesting to see how it's done! And... I so want that cupcake. Maybe I should crack down on my writing more so I can treat myself! :D

  4. Gracie: It took me quite a while to think of any, but they are out there.

    Definitely treat yourself! Life is for living and eating delicious cupcakes, so say I!


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