chase scene creative writing prompt

Chase Scene – building one into your story

Nothing ups the stakes for your characters like a chase scene. Whether they’re running from something or after something, careening around the environment is exciting, dangerous, and tension-filled. In this post, we look at the chase scene from a number of angles and provide some brainstorming to help spark your creative writing or roleplaying game. Learn about the chase scene, pick a writing prompt, and use our brainstormed lists to get writing or gaming quickly.

What is a chase scene?

Basically, a chase scene is a sequence in a story that involves one thing in hot pursuit of another. To illustrate: a character who is escaping from a captor gets spotted and then the pursuit is on. The art is to take the simplicity of such a plot point and jazz it up. For this post we’ve brainstormed some ways in which you could do that. For example, you could throw some obstacles in the environment — such as a locked door, a backyard pool, or a china cabinet — for characters to get frustrated by, leap over, or crash into.

When writing such scenes it’s fun to alter the pacing with short choppy sentences to speed things up and longer sentences to slow things down. Where short sentences and fragments create anxiety, longer sentences make the reader feel safer. Changing up the pace with bits of dialogue — but not too much — can add comic relief through witty or ironic quips, creating your own classic one-liners. Though for the most part, you want to keep the action pumping, jumping into a character’s thoughts and feelings can build anticipation for your readers as they connect to what your protagonist is panicking about as they run around.

Likewise, throwing in bits of description can have your readers on the edge of their seats, eager to get back to the action. You don’t want too much description in the middle of action, but tidbits here and there can contrast with the intensity of the chase effectively.

How you roll out your chase scene is a balancing act between many elements, but there is no better opportunity than the chase scene to toy with your audience’s anxiety as suspense builds.

Writing prompts for the chase scene

In this section of the post, we have some fun prompts for chase scenes. Try some of these ideas as writing exercises or adapt one to fit into a story you’re already working on. If one of these gives you a grand idea to riff on, so much the better. And as always, have fun!

person in a chase scene
What would make you run?

General writing prompts

  1. You walk around a corner and come face to face with your archnemesis whom you didn’t even know was in the area. You have no choice but to turn around and run while they’re hot on your tail.
  2. Debt can be problematic. You owe money — a substantial amount — and now, your lender is coming to collect. It’s time to get going!
  3. You have a tiny pet — a chihuahua, a mouse, a lizard, an alien, whatever — and it just got out of the cage. Now you have to chase it down, all around the house, and unfortunately, out the door. You didn’t realize how quick it was until now. Good luck!
  4. You have a craving so bad for something, but no money to buy it. What should you do? Steal it, of course! Now, the authorities are chasing you down. Are you done for?
  5. You cheated and thought you got away with it. Unfortunately, you’ve been caught and someone has shown up to make you pay.
  6. You knew they were coming for you so you made your way to a place where a secret door is rumoured to exist. Will it be there, and if so, where will it lead you?
  7. A burglary went wrong, and you were the one who thwarted the plans of the would-be robber. Unfortunately, they know who you are and they’re out to get you now.
  8. What happens if someone is chasing you and you go for help, but no one believes you. That’s exactly what happens when you’re chased by a ghost, demon, or other supernatural force.

Sci-fi writing prompts

  1. You live on a crowded planet and got yourself a fake ID to get off-world on a junker of a ship you bought used. You thought you were all clear; however, just as you take off, your sensors go bananas: you’ve been identified by the authorities who are coming to get you. Can you lose them in the madness of the planet or the vastness of space?
  2. You bought a robot-babysitter and things were going well. But now its AI is on the fritz and it wants baby for itself. Can you and your baby get away safely?
  3. You were urgently asked to hold a locked briefcase for your scientist father who told you he’d be back for it in 24hrs. However, it’s been two days and the serious-looking folks knocking at your door aren’t dear old dad. Your gut tells you to take the briefcase and run!
  4. Hackers have gotten into your computer. They don’t want money. Instead, there’s someone you gotta find who doesn’t want to be found. Get going!
  5. You drank a strange concoction at a science fair. As a result, you feel yourself changing in strange ways. Can you find the person who has the antidote?

Fantasy writing prompts

  1. Nothing says fantasy like opening a portal and letting out a horde of goblins. You’ve either got to get away from them or you have to chase them down and exterminate them before they leave their evil mark on everything and/or eat your family.
  2. You have somehow (luckily?) stumbled upon an ancient artifact. Someone warns you of its power and then, of course, dies. Now you need to find out more about it while escaping the madmen that are after it… and you. (so basically, Lord of the Rings)
  3. A cloaked figure appears at a distance and you’re not sure what you saw. Every fortnight, you think you see it again, closer each time, until you’re sure it is coming for you. What does it want and can you get away?
  4. In the crypt of your ancestors there is a secret door never to be opened. So one day you open it. Consequently, some nameless creature is out and you’re its prey!
  5. The race is on! A challenge has been issued to find a fabled treasure chest. As a result, adventurers from across the land (and beyond) have come for their chance to claim it in the name of the monarch. Do you have what it takes to get to it first?

How do you make a chase scene better?

Alright. You have a character getting chased and it ends up being a bunch of running around. Not too great. How do you make it better? There is no one right answer; that’s why we’re giving you five considerations that might make your creative life a little easier when considering a chase scene.

  • The first thing you can try is adding a time constraint. For example, what if there were a deadline? How about a timer on a bomb or an expiration date? A clock ticking puts tremendous stress on a character. An open doorway that is closing soon puts that Indiana Jones-like tension into your plot.
  • Secondly, you could try throwing in an “or else.” What if the job doesn’t get done? What is the threat looming over your character? If you can make the implications of failure more dramatic, the story will certainly ramp up, won’t it? Is someone gonna die? Will the world end? Is the pizza gonna be late?
  • A third option would be to saddle your character with a burden. A heavy parcel, a helpless little child, or a fragile artifact make things that much tougher to navigate when you’re on the run.
  • Our fourth suggestion is fun and easy. Just insert an injury. A nice bloody gash in a character’s leg when they crawl under a fence drips a lovely trail. Break one of the 206 bones in the human body. Too dramatic? Fine, then just sprain something.
  • Number five is really a nasty passive-aggressive approach; have your character lose something. That map that was so important catches on fire. The key gets dropped in the woods. The paddle is swept away by the current.

What can I put in my chase scene?

When we were thinking about this post, we considered four categories: characters, motivations, objects, and settings. Each of these can have a significant impact in building up the intensity of a chase. We brainstormed a number of ideas in each category to spice up the chase and we’re sure you’re going to like something from the following. Enjoy!


Although anyone can be in a chase scene, the following list of characters are great to really jazz up your story. Some characters, such as police or security officers, chase after suspects and miscreants as part of the job description. Other characters, like get-away drivers and spies, just love to run, duck, and hide. You can base your chase off of a relationship such as a political rival or a spurned lover. And of course, if you make anyone angry enough or jealous enough… the chase is on!

  • guardians such as: security, guards, sentinel, watchman, monitor, orderly
  • enforcement officers like: police, detectives, SWAT, undercover cop, plain-clothes officer, beat cop
  • guard dogs of various sizes: pit bull, German Sheppard, chihuahua,
  • guard monster: golem, goblin minions, dragon, hydra,
  • scientist, researcher, science team, biohazards assessment officer,
  • mercenary, soldier, hired gun, bounty hunter, military police, ranking officer,
  • pimp, dealer, underworld boss, gangster, bookie, gang lookout,
  • ghost, spirit, poltergeist, undead,
  • debt collector, repo-man, collections agent
  • a stalker, possessive partner,
  • evil witch, sorcerer after the “chosen one”,
  • thug, bandit, robber, burglar, thief
  • doppelganger trying to steal your life, mimic
  • clone bent on destroying a target,
  • getaway driver, chauffer,
  • agent, spy, informant
  • predator vs prey, monster vs meal,
  • angry spouse, the Ex, jealous boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, jilted lover, lover’s angry father,
  • business rivals, corporate competitor,
  • business partner, corrupt board member trying to remove you,
  • AI, robot, cyborg, sentient object who is sick of human scum
  • political rival, nemesis
  • priest, exorcist, holy man, spiritual guide, psychic, medium who thinks you are corrupted
  • an angry mob, riled citizens, fomented crowd, drunk rabble
  • crazed fans, cultists, fervent followers


Regardless of who they are, one of the most important things is to make sure that the people running around in your story have good reason for doing so. Maybe they seek vengeance. Perhaps they have an obligation or duty so powerful that drives them. Or it could be that they’re just really hungry.

Whatever the reason for your character’s chase, you should be sure to select a motivation that you can really grip onto with intention. You can tie it in to your character’s backstory or it can be derived from a relationship or a plot element. As examples, here are some great motivations to use for chase scenes that we brainstormed:

  • a character can be driven by anger, as in: loathing, hatred, wrath, seething hostility, animosity
  • revenge, payback, vengeance, “returning a favour,” “an eye for an eye”
  • dare, duel, battle to the death, death match
  • love makes people do crazy things; try some of these for example: lust, passion, jealousy, deep love, promised love, unrequited love
  • sport, challenge, test, race, defeating another, competition
  • compulsion, obsession, fascination, addiction
  • rite of passage, ritual, traditional test, religious calling
  • looking for help, seeking aid, needing assistance
  • catch a thief, get something back,
  • duty, honour, an oath, a promise, under orders, commanded
  • desperate to get something such as: information, a clue, a necessary key, a code, protected data
  • phobias, fears, and anxieties are great motivations to run from a whole mess of stuff
  • curiosity can get a character in trouble; for instance, if they open a forbidden box, something could be set loose that they need to run from
  • regret, trying to make things right, remorse, atonement
  • self-loathing, depression,
  • to prove oneself,
  • ambition, power struggle, climbing the corporate ladder, envy
  • materialism, greed, covetousness
  • subterfuge, undermining another, cheating

Objects and Obstacles

Nothing makes a chase scene more exciting than having a bunch of stuff around for characters to throw, leap over, or crash into. For example, a hero hurtling bags of frozen peas and Tater Tots at an enemy as they careen through a grocery store is a lot of fun. The list provided here should give you some ideas to populate your story with fun chase scene obstacles. There are also some objects in the lists that you can use creatively, like the glitchy flashlight and broken compass. Without further ado, here’s the list:

  • shelf full of objects such as knickknacks, books, trophies,
  • drink cart, serving trolley, hot dog vendor, ice cream buggy,
  • things full of water such as: jug, bucket, pool, pitcher, urn, bowl
  • animals galore including: big dog, bigger dog, fish in a pond, bear, cute little ducklings, a monster, a horse, a rattler
  • sharp stuff: cutlery, kitchen knife, scissors, garden shears, nail gun, swords and spears, broken glass, barbed wire fence
  • stuff on walls such as: framed photos, artwork, shelves, lamp, light switches
  • glitchy flashlight, broken compass, sullied map
  • dangerous machinery: saw, drill, conveyor belt, mill, grinder, crusher, loader, forklift
  • vase, flower pot, potted plant, fake tree, giant Venus flytrap
  • display case, trophy case, magazine rack, vendor’s display
  • bar, cabinet, island, cupboard,
  • rail, banister, glass pane, fence, barrier,
  • stuff to swing on: curtain, rope, chandelier, chain, vine, branch, flag, someone’s really long hair
  • stuff to press and activate: buttons, switches, a lever, interactive screen, toggle, handle, crank
  • food such as: hot soup, rack of ribs, raw potatoes, pudding,
  • things to climb or fall off of: ladder, stairs, scaffolding, ramp, elevator, fire escape, window,
  • furniture such as chairs, a coffee table, stool, waterbed, couch, ottoman, antique armoire, hallway bench
  • Along the road there may be objects such as: barrels, lamp posts, a parked car, pylons, road sign, red light, train approaching a crossing, round-about, off-ramp, dog, pedestrian,
  • “deadly” toys: horseshoes, darts, Lego brick in the carpet (when in barefeet), trampoline, loose marbles

Settings good for chases

You can run around anywhere and everywhere of course, but we think we have generated some fun ideas here for settings that are full of possibility. The following present multiple opportunities to generate complexity and to compound your characters’ problems. Find one in the list below that your characters could run through on their chase.

  • carnival, festival grounds, midway, circus, town fair, parade
  • birthday party, retirement, celebration
  • places to fall: cliff, ledge, edge, canyon, gully, ditch, spillway, canal, elevator shaft, balcony, mezzanine
  • cemetery, graveyard, funeral procession (this works if the characters suddenly have to be respectful in the midst of their chase), mausoleum, crypt, catacomb
  • busy, crowded places: airport, bus station, train terminal, docking bay on a spacecraft, subway platform,
  • mall, market, grocery store, big box store, garden center
  • any place with kids such as: daycare, a school, park, playground, field trip
  • a place with cool trinkets: tinkerer’s shop, sundry store, magician’s emporium,
  • orchard, rice paddy, cornfield, field, oasis, grow-op
  • maze, labyrinth (with or without a minotaur),
  • someplace underground such as: tunnel, catacombs, sewer system, dungeon,
  • museum, archives, antique show (lots of breakables)
  • temple, church, synagogue, mosque,
  • hallway, hall, aisles, rows,
  • kitchen, walk-in cooler, butcher shop, farmers market,
  • zoo, pet store, feed lot, chicken coop, stable,
  • casino, horse race track, football game,
  • musical concert, live band performance, marching band,
  • factory, automated plant, industrial building
  • restaurant, diner, ramen shop, food truck gathering
  • bar, pub, opium den, saloon, cantina
  • highway, on-ramp, exit, bridge, overpass, main street, downtown, suburbs
  • motel, inn, swanky hotel lobby
  • trade show, gun show,
  • office tower, endless cubicles,