Straight talk from the sisters about blood, sweat and ink
Masterplots Theater: P is for Pursuit
Welcome back to Masterplots Theater! Today we’re going on a wild ride with the Pursuit masterplot, which is more commonly known as the Chase plot. But hey, this is the A-Z Challenge where coming up with a suitable synonym so one has a post for a tricky letter is fair game. 😉
Pursuit Plot Notes:
The defining element of this masterplot is that the hero is being chased for the bulk of the story by the antagonist, not the other way around.
In a Pursuit masterplot, usually the characters are badass. After all, if a hero doesn’t kick butt, he or she would be caught within minutes by the scary, smart, capable and determined antagonist in pursuit.
In order for a good pursuit to take place, there needs to be an end in sight, typically a safe place the protagonist is trying to reach. It must be established that though the antagonist will never give up, this chase still can’t last forever.
The chase must be high stakes. Often the stakes are as high as death. A close second is the threat of being arrested or being enslaved. The hero must be running for a damn good reason. On the flip side, the antagonist has equally strong reasons for pursuing the hero.
Pursuit masterplots are heavy on the physical action. There’s not tons of time for conversation when the hero is running for their life!
Finally, the pursued and pursuer must interact throughout the story, not just at the climatic final showdown. The villain may capture the hero, then the hero escapes, thus the chase continues. One long chase scene with no interactions would be pretty boring.
Example to Study:
MAD MAX FURY ROAD is a freaking perfect example of the Pursuit masterplot.
· HERO BEING CHASED: Furiosa is being chased by the War Boys because she’s taken the leader Immortan Joe’s slave wives. Though this is a Mad Max film, and Max quickly ends up in Furiosa’s rig being chased too, Furiosa is the true protagonist of this tale because she is the one with the goal and the problem and the plan.
· CHARACTERS ARE BADASS: No one can drive a war rig like Furiosa! Also, all the characters hang off the various vehicles to fix stuff or fight while moving! The stunts in this movie, which weren’t special effects but actual stunt artists performing, were incredible.
· END IN SIGHT: Furiosa’s goal is to get the wives to safety, somewhere she calls The Green Place.
· HIGH STAKES: If the War Boys catch them, they’re dead.
· ACTION HEAVY: I don’t think I stopped gripping the armchair rests for this whole movie. Even the conversations were tense and usually amidst the action.
· INTERACTION: There are three main clashes between the War Boys and Furiosa’s gang before the big Act III showdown.
There are many films that use the Pursuit/Chase masterplot, though a lot are based on books, such as DRIVE by James Sallis, THE BOURNE IDENTITY by Robert Ludlum, and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN by Frank Abagnale and Stan Redding.
More Films: VANISHING POINT, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE NAKED PREY, THE TERMINATOR, and THE FUGITIVE.
Thank you for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed P is for Pursuit and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, Q is for Quest.
Have any Pursuit/Chase stories you love? Share them in the comments!
For more episodes of Masterplots Theater, check out the list below:
Heather is a freelance screenwriter, game writer, and novelist based in Toronto. For more, visit her website at heatherjacksonwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @HeatherJacksonW
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