The Action Adventure genre, or "Men's Adventure" as it is sometimes erroneously labeled, has been the focus of this blog since its inception. My amateur writing career, such as it is (or - hah! - isn't), has always focused on this genre. But one thing I have found lacking is advice for writers who cater to the shoot-em-up, punch-em-out variety of fiction. You can find writing guides for mystery, thrillers, espionage, and other niche genres, but they all tend to try and carry themselves with a little more finesse than your average action yarn, and forget about the generic "advice for aspiring novelists).
Back in the late 80's veteran action writer Mike Newton, who has written a number of Gold Eagle Executioner novels and a pile of other action adventure reads, sat down and wrote a guide for poor schmucks like me who wanted to write about guys running around with Uzis and grenade launchers. This reference book, How to Write Action Adventure Novels, has no doubt been buried largely unread in the back room piles of used bookstores for decades now. But Mike is a smart guy and knows that his work can live on once again in an eBook format. I picked this up for my Kindle late Wednesday night, and finished it Saturday evening.
Overall, this is a very solid book. Mike covers a lot of the basics that most writers should understand (but its always good to be reminded), like having a strong hook, how to develop good characters, and so forth, but he always looks at things from an action and adventure standpoint. This is coupled with a lot of excerpts from books and some of them are of what NOT to do, which I always think is a good idea. He also reminds writers that research is vital for such a niche genre because so many of the readers have military or law enforcement backgrounds, and can sniff out a fake very quickly. Although very dated now, a large number of reference works are provided for authors who didn't know where to begin in the pre-Google days.
Lastly, there is a whole chapter on breaking into the genre publishing gig. This is actually the saddest part about this book, because it makes it so obvious how much of a stranglehold traditional publishers have over the authors. Advice like how you never want to call unsolicited - which in and of itself is not a bad thing to say - is badly colored when it's followed up with how you never want to annoy anyone, ever, because somehow, some day, they might be in a position to open or close the gates for your career. Reading this section of the book, is it any wonder Kindle Direct Publishing and other indie pub outlets are being flooded?
For five dollars, I think this book is still a good investment. I found most "so you want to be a writer" books make me want to throw up, and this one is refreshingly honest, well-written, and possesses just the right amount of cheek and sarcasm. Highly recommended.