Most people seem to love action.
Whenever I look through the films that are showing, the main thing I see is action movies. There may be lots of different genres covered: suspense, adventure, science-fiction, fantasy. But the main thing that brings all of these movies together is that they’re dominated by action.
It seems like there’s a similar thing happening with books. The same sorts of genres seem to dominate in the publishing world as well – with the possible addition of romance, which I suppose is action of a different sort.
Clearly, there’s a pretty massive market out there for stories with a lot of action, whether that’s in the movies or on the printed page. Most people don’t seem to be able to get enough action. Creating stories that are full of action must be some sort of golden ticket to success.
When I see the dominance of action stories in entertainment, I start to think that maybe there’s something wrong with me. I don’t love action.
It’s not that I totally dislike it. I know it has its place in a good story, and I can enjoy it when it’s done well and fits into the overarching narrative. But after a while, if a story contains little more than action, I start to get bored.
There is so much I look for in a good story. I’m interested in characters, and their relationships to each other, and how their actions influence the things that happen to them. I love to get engaged in a story, and to wonder about what will happen next. I get frustrated when all I seem to get is more action. I end up sitting there, getting really impatient, counting down for the car chase or fist fight or whatever it is to finish so I can get back to the story.
It’s a bit like that with my own writing as well. Sure, I don’t completely ignore action in my stories. I’m actually quite proud to say that I’ve managed to incorporate fist fights, sword fights, chases, and other feats of action in my writing. It’s just that I tend not to spend too much time on those scenes, because they’re not the sorts of things that interest me as a writer. There have been times when an editor has suggested I flesh out the action because it’s ended up being too brief – and I’ve been happy to follow that advice. But I do find that writing good action scenes is not that easy. I end up veering into cliche, or over-relying on a bunch of specific words and actions. I’d much rather be writing character interactions and dialogue.
So there you have it. I’ve outed myself. I’m not excited by action. I’m happy to go against the general trend of action, action, action. For the sake of my own books, I hope I’m not the only one.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as