Missile combat can be immediate and intimate, requiring EW support and even escort, or distant and very impersonal, where you're lobbing yours immediately before running away from your enemies, depending on technological assumptions.
But how do you make one or the other work with internal consistency in your story? What details need to be hinted at for a softer audience or even explored for a harder one, or people seeking a space techno-thriller?
According to my research, what determines if one, the other, or both is effective ultimately comes down to the interplay of sensors, electronic warfare (EW), anti-EW, missile dv, if your target can accelerate, and how good your anti missile beams and anti-missile missiles are. Even if your missiles are "torch missiles" using nuclear drives, if they're favoring isp/dv or acceleration/impulse changes a lot!
Indeed, settings with different tech assumptions can lend themselves to lean one way or another, but I've found there's always room to tune and match the vibe and intensity of your story, or even contrast against it. Fleeing from a torch missile with a nuclear drive for days if not weeks while praying your beams shoot it down is exhausting and dreadful, while dodging at high gees and staring at a screen watching if your screen saved you or not creates a more prompt, intense stress for your characters - and your reader.
Likewise, "fire and forget" would create another attitude toward combat and leadership than "we are going in". Accordingly, an enemy an AU away diverting from a vector that would intercept would tell you cold missiles you can't yet detect are on the way in the first world, while in the second if they don't approach close enough you're probably safe - unless one of their few precious jamming missiles was used on a salvo, and you can't know until alarms start blaring in hours or days.
Another thing to consider is if a missile will be seen all the way in, or if you're dreading undetectable later stages can mix up your vibe. It's possible to have worlds that range from "space BVR" to "salvoes with 'wild weasel' ships" to "submarine duels in KSP", by assuming "amazing nuclear drives and sensors", "good drives and amazing electronic warfare," and "stealth beats sensors" respectively.
My answer explores what I've found so far. What else have people come across? Also, has anyone seen any glaring holes in what I've put together?