On Rescues And Escapes: Run, Character, Run!

Rescue and escape seem to go hand-in-hand. If someone is captured, they can either save themselves and escape or someone will have to rescue them and everyone has to escape together.

This is a common theme in most novels since a lot of plots, depending on the genre, has the good guy versus bad guy thing going on.


What is Rescue and Escape?

Rescue can be a number of things:

  • The hero is rescuing another major or minor characters
  • The hero is rescuing himself
  • A major or minor character is rescuing the hero

There are a few more scenarios, but those, I think, are the most common.

Escape is a bit more simple as someone is trying to get away from a person or a place (or a thing, I guess).

Why is this important?

When a character has to rescue someone else or escape someone or someplace, that means there’s some sort of danger. There’s something on the line whether it’s a life or something the character is fighting for.

Bringing this sense of danger advances the plot forward. How are the characters going to get out? What’s going to happen to them before they escape? Are they even going to be able to escape? Who will come rescue them?

Not only that, but it gets the reader’s heart racing if done the right way.

Is this a side-theme or a theme on its own?

This depends on your genre.

If you’re writing an adventure novel, then chances are rescue and escape is going to be a pretty large component of your plot.

For example, if you’re writing something along the lines of Super Mario Bros. (sorry, I have video games on the brain) then that’s the whole plot right there. Princess Peach is kidnapped by Bowser (bad guy) and Mario (good guy and hero) has to save her. Then there are side games such as Luigi’s Mansion in which case Mario is kidnapped and Luigi is the hero in that story.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be the major theme of the novel. Throw a rescue mission in the middle of the novel to add a little something to the plot. It keeps the story going and doesn’t let the readers lose interest. It adds conflict but doesn’t completely overshadow the plot.

In Conclusion

I think rescue and escape is a fun theme to explore. It’s been done over and over again to the point that it seems cliche, but there’s a lot you can do with it and it keeps things moving at a steady pace.

What do you think of rescues and escapes in novels? Have you written them in your novels? Let me know in the comments below!

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20 thoughts on “On Rescues And Escapes: Run, Character, Run!

  1. I think one reason it can be so entertaining is that rescues are so easy to screw up. It’s the type of plan that readers seem to expect will go wrong. So you get some immediate tension from that thought. Can’t even remember the last rescue/escape storyline I read where it didn’t go wrong st some point.

  2. Wonderful post! Again, I’d like permission to use it with my writer wannabees in my class. they are doing some writing on their own, outside the curriculum, outside of class time. Hooray! p.s. We are all blogging, both in groups and some individually. This is not part of the curriculum to be covered but lots of fun and helps everybody write better, as well as fill up our three hour class time.

    • Of course you can! I’m glad that you find my posts helpful for your students.
      That’s awesome that everyone is blogging and writing. What an awesome group to be part of. 🙂

  3. Good writing on what is rescue & escape and why (when) it’s needed. However, I’m disappointed with the lack of some practical advice on what should an author consider when writing rescue & escape.
    I.e., in my WIP, sci-fi novel about space exploration, I have a rescue situation when one ship is stranded by accident and drifting and another is significantly altering its course to go to rescue. I’m going to write about how does the rescue ship crew make the decision to go to the rescue and draw a plan and what is stranded crew experiencing (and how did they got into the accident). In my opinion, things to consider here are how the decision-making process and circle of involved persons correlates to the plot and consequential circumstances for rescue and stranded crew.

Let me know your thoughts!

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