by Darrell Smith
Question: How can I describe a building in which a gunfight involving maybe a dozen people takes place.Answer:
It's usually easier if you have a specific building in mind, especially if the logistics of the fight are complex.
If you can get hold of a floorplan of the building or type of building you have in mind, or even design a floorplan yourself, and perhaps some game tokens, you can have a go at mapping out the action - much the way police might do a forensic analysis of a crime scene.
If the building you are using as a model exists today, you might want to walk through it, imagining the action. They way, you'll have a sense how long it takes to get from one point to another.
Fortunately, you don't need to describe the building in the precise terms an architect would (unless your story is being told from the point of view of an architect). And unless the building is famous, no one is going to criticize you for changing a few details to suit your story - provided the action makes logical sense.
Also bear in mind that you only need to describe what your point of view character perceives. A lot of action may take place outside his/her perception. It will help you to know the big picture, but neither the character nor the reader needs to know everything you know.