Adrenalin Surge When Writing

I just finished writing a scene for my next book. My main character, an Oakland Detective Right Viewhomicide investigator named Matt Sinclair, and his female partner received a tip that someone they’re looking for in connection with a murder they’re investigating might be in a restaurant. They were told he’s an associate of one of the suspects, but since there were three suspects involved, he could be one of the other suspects. They just don’t know.

The two homicide sergeants meet with two uniformed officers and enter the crowded café, looking at faces and trying to match one with the photo from the man’s driver’s license. Sinclair spots the man at the same time the man makes him for a cop. The bad guy pulls a gun and Sinclair draws his.

Time slows. Sinclair feels like he’s moving in slow motion as his gun clears his holster underneath a rain coat and suit coat. He punches it forward where it meets his left hand. The hands lock onto the gun. The gun comes up to eye level. He takes up the slack in the trigger, a microsecond from pulling it the remainder of the way to the rear.

The scene is many times longer than this. It took me an hour to write. When finished, I got up from my computer and my hands were shaking. My character lived. It was over, but I felt like I had years ago when I carried a badge and gun for a living. Every cop has experienced incidents like the one I wrote about. We handled them. But when they’re over, the adrenalin that shot into our systems and allowed us to focus and survive dumps out.

I remember standing around after incidents like this shaking so badly I couldn’t hold my pen. My legs felt like rubber and my speech was as jagged as the nerves in my body. Writing this scene took me back to those incidents. It felt real, even though I wasn’t holding my Sig Sauer in my hand and I’m 3000 miles from Oakland.

I wonder if this happens to other writers, or if it happens to other retired cops when they watch a particularly real incident on TV, read an authentic passage in a novel, or rehash one of their war stories to a friend.

9 thoughts on “Adrenalin Surge When Writing

  1. Intense Brian. I lost someone close to me to a self-inflicted gunshot to the head several years ago. Even though I was not there to witness it, know precisely what happened. To this day when I read about or wat h a similar event in a TV show it raises a level of adrenaline and dread unlike any other. I don’t know that I could ever write such a scene into one of my stories.

  2. Very intriguing. Sounds similarly to a case, I believe occurred a year or 2 ago. It actually happened in a San Francisco restaurant if I’m not mistaken. I forget the full details, but I think there was an off-duty OPD officer that just happened to be in the very restaurant as a suspect that was being sought in a homicide case.

  3. Although I was never in law enforcement, I had several experiences as a combat marine where I was fired upon – the closest call was when two tracer rounds whistled past by head while I was riding in the back of a six by. The fact that they were tracers meant that at least 5 bullets came between me and the marine next to me at head level. I swear I could feel the heat. And, we were traveling at about 25 miles per hour! Thank God for a fast muzzle velocity – any slower snd I wouldn’t be talking about it now.

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