Still Life of an Adrenaline Rush

Okay, adrenaline junkies, here’s one for you. Head to your favorite spot for an adrenaline rush, such as a roller coaster, laser tag, or whatever you can afford on your budget, and take a notepad and pen with you. While doing your activity of choice, pay special attention to the physical sensation of the experience. If it’s not too distracting, you can start formulating the words to capture the sensation of flying, or if it’s more the laser tag variety,  the heart-pounding thrill of a simulated life-or-death struggle.

Immediately after the activity ends, find a relatively quiet place, as nearby as possible, and record your experience. Use third person,  past tense–but don’t tell us what you just did. Relive it on paper. Describe the feeling, the sensation, the pounding of your heart, any thoughts you can still recall.

Don’t worry about good form, so you can write as quickly as possible. The fresher you are off the experience, the better you’ll recall it, and the better you recall it, the easier time you’ll have finding the words to recreate the experience for your readers.

When you get home, retype this assignment into a desktop document, and save it as a template for when you put a character into a similar situation. After all, this is something you love to do, right? You’re very likely to find an excuse at some point to write about it. Just remember–you can only use this exact sequence of events once! But having it written down will help you recall what it feels like with more accuracy, and you can always tweak it to fit the needs of your plot in future projects.

Write action, but chicken in real life?  Swallow your fear, and find the nearest approximate to the adrenaline rush you subject your characters to. If it involves guns, laser tag (Magic Mountain and her competitors have this for fairly cheap) and paint ball are good choices.

If you have an excellent memory, and can recall a previous adrenaline rush well enough to recreate it for us, you can attempt this based on that experience as well, but the fresher you can afford to get, the better. Writers groups wanting to try this together, but can’t afford such a group outing, can likewise ask the group to recall a recent adrenaline rush and do their best to describe what it felt like. Please tell them you found it on if you do use this in your group.

This exercise is designed to help  you find the words that will give your readers your POV character’s adrenaline rush, rather than merely reporting what happened. In addition to POV, it will also aid with showing versus telling, and improve your skills at writing action sequences.

I’d also love to know if you found this exercise helpful! Short scenes (500 words max) may also be shared in the comments. Remember, anything posted in a public place is considered to be published, so protect your rights and don’t post it if you planned to publish it as a stand-alone piece.