You know that old cliché: time slowed?
Well, if you’ve ever been in a car crash or any kind of accident, you’ll know exactly what that means: the amygdala (the seat of emotion in your brain) kicks in and calmly starts recording every detail. When you go back over your memories, the moment will seem to have lasted at least 30% longer than it actually could have.
The way to recreate this in fiction is not to say “time slowed” but to actually recreate the ‘amygdala effect’: describing in excruciating detail everything your character experiences in those elongated moments. Usually these occur in the moment of anticipation, when you KNOW something bad is about to happen but can do nothing to stop it.
Write A Story That Happens In The Moment Before An Accident
- Start your story at the moment when the accident has begun to happen: the car is sliding, the character is falling; her finger is coming back up from clicking ‘send’ on the email when she see that the ‘to’ field contains the name of the person she’s actually bitching ABOUT…
- Describe every detail of what’s happening Take some time to give us backstory as the character’s mind flashes back on what is important to her Make us care about the character (love or despise, either way).
- End the story when the character has made an emotional change, not necessarily when they land/crash. You can leave them spinning through the air if you want to, and allow the reader to make up the rest.