People have asked how I decide to cast action scenes, or where the detail ideas come from. I’ll illustrate my process with two scenes from my upcoming Martyrs novel.
In Martyrs, terrorists are shooting random people across the country with deer rifles. The first shooting occurs in Roseville, California. How did I pick Roseville? I simply followed the terrorists’ decision tree. They had selected the top forty metropolitan areas in the United States, then would randomly pick from those forty at random time intervals. I made a random city-selection program and let her rip. Sacramento metropolitan area came up the winner for the first attack. Roseville came up because a site selected itself, it had to offer cover for the sniper, with an easy escape route. Using Google maps, I found the following location.
It creates a perfect setup for the terrorist. They park in the Home Depot lot, take their rifle across the field at night, shoot someone in the WinCo foods parking lot then reverse tracks in a clean getaway. This particular scenario, I actually got to visit in person to see how well the actual situation would have worked.
In the daytime, the WinCo food parking lot is visible across the field. At night the field would be very dark. Across the field, our terrorist could easily remain unseen until he found the right victim.
Needless to say, the reality of the location was very gratifying from a story perspective. Now as it happens, I have relatives who live in Roseville. They might not be pleased by the site picked, and, who knows, they may even have shopped here once or twice.
The second shooting was set for the Atlanta, GA metropolitan area. In that case, I selected a location in Stone Mountain GA for the action.
In this case, the shooter is targeting a private school, parking in the back of a Walmart, walking down a fireroad through the woods, then inserting himself in woods next to the ball field or play area.
A closeup of the end location, the play structures on the left, the baseball diamond on the right. In the story, the sniper takes the left option, then escapes through the woods back to the Walmart.
Throughout the novel, I used Google maps a lot, along with wikipedia entries for locations. It helped underscore and test whether some of the things I imagined happening were really possible. One sad conclusion was that too much of it was in fact very possible.
Changing gears, last chance to climb aboard the beta version train. I’ve got it ready and will be sending it to those who contact me. This is your last active opportunity to nip this whole story line in the bud, people!