I have three workshops to present this month, and they’re all on different topics. I don’t know how that happened, since typically months and months go by without me speaking to any groups at all. That’s fine with me. But this month I find myself feeling very much like a teacher again.
One workshop I’m giving next week is on adding action and adventure to novels. My books are action-packed and high energy, so this is the perfect topic for me. I thought I might give all of you a sneak preview of the points I’ll make. If any of you are aspiring writers, think about your writing style and whether any of these points might infuse some momentum into your novel.
1. Set Reader Expectations
*don’t add action or suspense as an afterthought
Have you ever read a novel where about halfway through out of nowhere a villain or a terrorist or a crisis suddenly shows up? I read a few each year, and I know right away that the author has run out of plot and decided to throw in some adventure to keep the book going. It’s confusing and off-putting to readers. If you’re going to write adventure, start the book as you mean to go on.
*keep the romance front and center
The flip side of writing action and adventure is writing too much action and adventure. If you’re writing a romance, don’t forget the book is about the love story. The action and adventure is secondary.
2. Keep Tensions High:
*Vary your writing style
Action scenes should be short, sometimes choppy, and concise. Emotional scenes are longer, should flow, and are more descriptive. Fight scenes should be filled with strong verbs, like smack, jab, cut, and slam.
*Skip the “Tom Clancy” descriptions
Readers want romance, not a book on flintlock pistols (unfortunately, because I could probably write one!). The author should give enough description to make the situation sound believable but not so much as to bore the reader.
3. At the end, show character growth
The adventure has to have affected the characters. For example, the waitress who hates guns now wants an AK-47; the hero who gets seasick becomes a pirate. A character shouldn’t go back to the status quo after a life-changing experience.
Do you like it when books have an action-adventure element?