Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Gotta Get Me Some Action

There's a thing about wanting to write military romance - or any suspense romance, for that matter - that I never considered when I fell in love with the subgenre. It's all about the action.

In mil roms and suspense roms, people are always getting chased or chasing someone else, getting shot at or shooting someone else. There are usually a few punches thrown, maybe a couple of kicks for good measure. No matter how much or how little, if the hero is supposed to be some sort of kickass guy (or gal), the writer is going to need to show a little bit of that ass-kicking, right?

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write action scenes?

I mean, the deadliest weapon I've ever wielded has been a fly swatter. I think I once experienced a high-speed car adventure at 9:56 on a Saturday night when I knew that Baskin Robbins closed promptly at 10:00. The extent of my martial arts knowlegde I earned from my dozen odd viewings of The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid II. Um...wax on, wax off. Paint the fence.

Sure, I'm a big fan of military and action movies. I've seen countless actors and their stunt doubles perform perfectly choreographed fight sequences, more lately with a little help from their computer buddies. Some are done well, or at least what seems like something that might possibly happen. Some are just long, drawn out affairs to show off the latest in CGI technology (The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, anyone?).

Seems most real one-on-one combat action is actually pretty quick. Watching one of the DVD special features on my newly acquired copy of The Bourne Identity, a former CIA operator applauded the movie's fight scenes which he said showed both a linear progression and things that a real world operative would do. The fights were brutal but quick. None of this dancing about, taking shots at one another until any real human made of flesh and bones would be nothing more than a bag of mush. I read the same compliment about the action scenes in A History of Violence; that when it did happen, the fights were brutal and over very, very quickly, as they would be in real life.

So, the good news in this is that I don't have to write chapter-long fight scenes between heroes/heroines and their baddie counterparts. It's not just realism that gives me a pass on this, either. I imagine that readers of romance, even suspense romance, aren't there for the fights. Less is more can be my modis operandi with no guilt.

Even so, I still wouldn't know a sucker punch from a choke hold. (Actually, I do know the difference between these two, but I'm trying to make a point.) As such, I figured maybe I'd take a wander into that testosterone-laden world of true military fiction. You know, the ones where the romance is limited to the hero banging as many well-endowed, nameless blondes as will fit in his hotel hot tub. What those stories lack in love they more than make up for in action, action, and more action.

Right now my carry-along read is Richard Marcinko's Rogue Warrior: Red Cell. I figured I'd get a double whammy with this one since Dickie M. is known far and wide as the Navy SEAL to end all Navy SEALs. I'd get a chance to see not only how real action is portrayed but also a flavor of how SEALs talk the talk and walk the walk. Plus my local UBS had a paperback copy, as well as the one that follows, Rogue Warrior: Green Team.

And to be honest, I'm enjoying the book. Dickie is pretty amusing. I've learned some very colorful phrases that might come in handy if I'm ever hanging out down on the docks with the boys on shore leave. I won't go into how sore my eyes are from the rolling. While Dickie's books are fiction (because he'd get in big-ass trouble if he revealed any *real* dirt on top-secret operations), he gives the concept of a Marty Stu whole new meaning since he is openly the star of all of his stories. His books contain a bizarre mixture of reality fused to the absurd, and so far it's pretty obvious when he's playing in one world versus the other. Truthfully the real stuff is far more interesting than the real-stuff-disguised-as-over-the-top-fantasy.

BTW, I'll have you all know that walking around with a copy of Rogue Warrior is no less embarrassing that reading something like The Pirate Lord in public. I suppose if I were a man, a book with Dickie Marcinko and his big gun glowering from the cover would be a sign of studliness. For me, I just feel like saying "Research" to everyone giving me that eyebrows down look.

Reading action will do a lot to give me a flavor for the ducks and covers and rolls and maneuvers such stuff entails. However, in the end I think it all comes down to the ability to visualize an action scene in your head. To that degree, writing action scenes is a lot like writing sex scenes. You have to be able to close your eyes and watch the picture unfold, noting what body parts are where and in what direction things are headed.

Except, it's a lot easier to work out any vagueness in a sex scene because I have a willing partner. Wonder what the hubby would say if I asked him to block out a firefight?

1 comment:

Steph T. said...

LOL - people always look at me strangely when they find my copies of Soldier of Fortune magazine lying around...