Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Next, we’ll consider the Chase. This is an action driven plot, high in tension and stimulating. Often, it’s unique and high concept, having larger than life situations, like alien invasions, pandemics, killer storms. The main character (MC) may be the pursuer or the pursued. There is always a strong reason for a chase, with duty or obsession motivating the chase itself. As always in story, there is a beginning, middle, and an end.

 In part one, the writer must establish a reason for the pursuit and determine the pursuer. The stakes must be high. Capture dangerous. If the MC is the pursued, he may be the victim of a bad situation, a mistake, or a misunderstanding. He may have done wrong for a good reason. A motivating incident presents itself by the end of this section.

 The middle contains the chase. It is filled with near captures, dangers, and physical action. Unrelenting tension builds as the pursuer repeatedly closes in on the victim, only to have him escape.

 Part three is the resolution. Here, the pursued is either caught or he escapes, relieving tension.

 The Fugitive is an example of a chase plot. In part one, Dr. Richard Kimble finds his wife murdered. The killer, a one-armed man, flees the scene. Instead of going after the real killer, the authorities arrest Kimble and try him for murder. On the way to Death Row, there’s an accident. Kimble escapes from the crash scene and decides to clear his name.

 Part two contains several narrow escapes as Deputy U.S. Marshall Samuel Gerard tries to recapture Kimble. Kimble goes to a hospital to treat his wounds. Someone recognizes him, but he escapes. While Gerard has him cornered on a viaduct, Kimble leaps into raging water. He goes to a hospital to look for a list of people with prosthetic arms. Gerard is close behind. Kimble locates the one-armed man, Sykes, and discovers that his friend, Nichols, hired the murderer as a hit man.

 The resolution takes place in part three as Kimble confronts Nichols. They fight while Gerard and his men close in. Aware that the authorities now know the truth about the murder, Nichols tries to shoot Gerard. Kimble stops him, then surrenders to Gerard and is exonerated.

 Moby-Dick is an example of a Chase plot. Ahab hunts the whale. In Les Miserables, Javert tries to recapture Jean Valjean. Sherlock Holmes seeks Moriarity. And in Master and Commander, Aubrey pursues French merchant ships. Next time we will look at Romance—Quinn   

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