Into the Action: Clean Up Aisle Five! a.k.a. Action’s Aftermath

Oi, I feel like a million miles of bad road.  This starving author has just spent one hour too many on late night writing binges.

But that’s not YOUR problem, dear reader, and so the show must go on!  Today, for your edification and entertainment, let’s touch back on an article series that’s been gathering dust for a bit.  That’s right, it’s time to get back Into the Action.  For today’s episode, let’s touch on something that can be an issue in writing action adventure tales: what happens *after* the action concludes.

This may sound like a no-brainer.  The action ends, the plot continues, life goes on.  That may be true, but I’m trying to steer us into looking at all the collateral effects of an average action sequence and how those things should be included into and woven into the story.  This includes the big stuff (damage property, crimes committed, injuries given and taken) and the little stuff (aches, pains, fatigue, getting a new shirt to replace the blood-stained one).

Now, you could simply take a page from the action movie genre and pay lip service to these things and then brush them off.  A short dramatic scene of patching up a wound, daring to show the character actually reload a gun, or a scene as the protagonists dust the debris off themselves from an explosion and walk away, we’ve all seen things like this in movies and either just accepted it as part of movie reality or been put off by it.  It would certainly be valid to use the tropes of the action genre to explain the aftermath away with a few sweeps of the pen.

The problem is that literature and movies are two different forms of media.  Those media carry different thoughts and expectations as well have radical differences in how information is delivered.  What may work for, say, an ’80s action movie may not work for your book and, in fact, I’d wager it won’t.  However, at the same time, dealing with the effects of a major action sequence in a fully realistic fashion could take more research and pages of your book than the actual action did.

The key, as with most things in literature, is to strive for a balance based on the level of realism in the world of your story.  If you are going to have people bouncing back from broken bones and bullet wounds, make sure there’s support for that in your fictional world.  Advanced medical technology, superhuman powers, magic, mutations … all sorts of things could be imployed in a universe-by-universe basis.   Even in a mostly realistic world, you can still employ some of that movie magic, just apply a lighter brush.

The fact is that humans can be scarily resilient at times and also that other real world systems are prone to breakdowns and mistakes.  Why aren’t the cops chasing down the protagonists after they were part of a high-speed chase?  Maybe they couldn’t positively ID them.  Maybe the pursuing officers were too focused on the chase and never got the license plates.  Maybe there’s just a breakdown in the system and red tape keeps an APB from being issued.

I suppose what this boils down to is that you can deal with all of the problems a big action sequence would incur in the real world in ways that won’t cripple your plot, but will also help the reader keep a healthy suspension of disbelief.  We’ll believe the action hero can shrug off a bullet wound in his/her shoulder so long as there’s blood, treatment, and reminders of that wound impairing his/her ability for the rest of the story.  Remember, as in all things writing, the devil AND the angel is in the details.

Good luck and good writing!

Getting Political: What the hell, ‘gamebros’?

Reading the news is always something of a roller-coaster.  There are high points and low points.  Maybe I should say, though, that the news is more like riding a rickety roller-coaster, because at the end, I usually wind up feeling off-balance, confused, and a tad sick to the stomach, with little of the rush riding a good coaster gives me.  Today is sadly no different in that regard.

Maybe, if you’re a past reader, you will notice that I am something of a feminist.  I feel strongly about women’s issues and am not afraid to have my voice counted among others who share my beliefs.  Naturally, for whatever reason, I am a life-long fan of some things that do not normally fit into the feminist toolbox: comic books, video games, and pro wrestling.  All of those things have had more than a few problems in the realm of women’s issues, especially in the realm of sexist depictions and attitudes towards women in the industry.

So suffice it to say I’m pretty damn appalled at the actions of those who think that ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (which as a name is really quite awesome … please call me a Social Justice Warrior!) are ‘ruining’ video games and that they have to ‘fight back’ against their ‘oppressors’, which amounts of petty death threats, ruining reputations with false information, theft and distribution of personal information, and a host of other disgusting acts, quite a few of which are actual, you know, CRIMES.  ‘Gamebros’, grow up.  Seriously.

Whether you realize it or not, you are doing a fine job not at saving video games, but ruining them.  Gaming has the potential to be an incredible new media, at least as highly regarded as film and theatre, and the interactive elements present an unparallelled chance to bridge cultures and give people a glimpse into the life of others.  It should be PROMOTING equality and unity, not causing greater division.  If you knuckle-dragging fools would wake up and realize that, you wouldn’t be doing these horrible acts.  Instead, you’d be doing everything in your power to welcome the people that make up over 50% of the audience of the media you purport to love.

Instead … well … we get what we currently have going on.

So, in essence, what the hell, ‘gamebros’?  What will make you wake up and join the 21st century?