A car accident can be exciting, scary and devastating. In this post I will give you 4 steps that can help you write about a car accident.
1. How does the car accident happen?
A car accident can’t just happen when a character blinks, although it can happen in a blink of an eye. Even if your character(s) don’t see the oncoming car, the reader at least should.
What causes the accident? Does someone run into the middle of the road? Does a car swerve into the wrong lane, or run a red light? Is the driver of the other car drunk? Is someone distracted by their cell phone?
In the first book of my series, my main characters get in a deadly car accident because they are kissing. . . . Hey, I know better than to kiss and drive! But my characters don’t. ;)
2. Use Vivid Prose
Describe how the hood crumples, the glass shatters, and the sound of squealing tires. Tell the readers about the character’s impact into the steering wheel, airbag, and windshield.
Does the car roll? Show the readers what the car looks like when it rolls, and what happens to your characters inside the car. Do more cars become part of the crash? Describe each car as it slams into another. Give your readers a vivid image of everything that happens during the car accident.
3. What happens after the car accident?
Does a fire truck and ambulance come to the scene? Do firefighters have to cut off the doors to get your characters out? Are they rushed to the hospital? Are their injuries minor or serious? Describe their injuries and the pain they feel.
TIP #1: Mention the bruises your character gets from the seat belt and steering wheel. And don't forget the burns from the airbags. (Thank you, Cherie, for reminding me!)
TIP: #2: Everyone reacts differently in traumatic events, so you can let one of your characters go into hysterics and another be calm. (Thanks, Slamdunk!)
TIP #3: Shock (acute stress reaction) occurs after witnessing or being in a traumatic event. Common reactions are numbness and detachment. You can have your character go into a state of shock after their accident, which typical wears off in 24-48 hours. When it does pain becomes present and emotions run high. (Thanks, Stephanie!)
4. How does the accident play into the plot?
Everything that happens in a story has to be part of the plot. The car accident needs to impact the story even if it’s just for a few chapters, or is the climax.
In one of my (unpublished) flash fiction pieces, a man becomes paralyzed after being hit by a car. I reveal how he deals with this trauma and overcomes it. Even if your character doesn’t have long-term injuries, maybe they have a broken arm that makes work difficult. Or perhaps your character suffers brain trauma and is unconscious while his/her lover waits by the hospital bed.
Whatever the outcome of the accident is, follow through with it to the end, or until their injuries are healed and insurance money has been paid.
QUESTION: Have you been in a car accident? If you would like to offer some insight about what it’s like, I would be honored to read your comment.