Wow, this is a first. I mean, I feel like it’s a (possibly insignificant) milestone to have one of my books released in hardback format but I’m pleased as punch either way!
We’re back, baby! The wrestling action/adventure/drama of Three Seconds to Legend begins with The Opening Bell, now professionally edited, revised, cleaned-up, and turned into a lean, mean, fighting machine with the help of my publisher, California Times!
Thank you to everyone who has read, critiqued, commented, and supported me these past years! This wouldn’t have come to pass without you.
— J. B. Garner, your Starving Author
For the past few months, I’ve been doing more than writing, reviewing, and fretting over publishing stuff. I’ve also been taken on as an editor for a comic book series. A small, independent one, but a comic book all the same. Originally today I was going to do a review of the series so far, but then I realized that would be an ethical morass from which I couldn’t extract myself. Le sigh!
However, what I can do, is point/direct you at said comic book series, both where you can buy it and where you can get news about it! I’ve mentioned it before, but said comic book series is Galactic Wrestling All-Stars, which combines classic pro wrestling action with a 1950s science-fiction kitsch to make a uniquely nostalgic reading experience. Add to that a format much like Golden and Silver Age comic books, complete with back-up features introducing characters and back-story and threads starting to weave some surprisingly deep characterization and …. DAMMIT! I’m reviewing it, aren’t I?
Okay, before I shove my foot deeper into my mouth, let’s get the links done so you can check it out!
Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!
It isn’t hard to realize that I am a big fan of professional wrestling. Heck, I have an entire book series dedicated to it. While this may be a surprise to some, there is actually a strong connection between the in-ring theatrics of wrestling and the art of writing fiction. There are lessons to be learned from one that can be applied to the other and that is something we are going to touch on today.
In pro wrestling, there is a concept called ‘wrestling psychology’ or ‘mat psychology’. What it means is that the wrestlers are creating a believable, logical sequence of events during the match. They are following a consistent strategy for their approach, reacting (‘selling’) to their opponent’s moves, and general convincing the audience to buy into the match, to believe that maybe this could be real. It’s all about making the audience suspend their disbelief, to become invested into the wrestlers’ characters and the action going on.
Now, while we know that pro wrestling is scripted to an extent, it isn’t extensively choreographed like a fight scene from a movie. Each wrestler has to invest their own athletic and acting talents into the match to make it work. It is improvisational, cooperative story-telling told through grunts, groans, slams, and posturing.
That’s where the connection lies between writing and wrestling. Understanding what makes for good ‘wrestling psychology’ can help a writer understand good ‘writing psychology’. Every story, just like every match, has to follow a logical sequence of events. The story must have characters that the readers can believe in, convince them that their conflicts are real and important, and then ‘sell’ the reactions of those characters.
Also, just like the improvisational ring work of wrestlers, writers often need to be able to think on their feet. I have yet to meet or speak with a fellow author that hasn’t been forced to go ‘off script’ when they transfer their concepts from plan to actualization. A good writer goes with the flow and then smooths over the bumps so that you, the reader, never know just how many curves and swerves the writer went through, much like the best pro wrestler. A bad writer, well, you can tell. Either the situation seems wrong (they didn’t go with their instincts) or you can tell when the writing suddenly shifts ninety degrees (they didn’t make sure the changes were done smoothly).
What do you, my faithful readers, think? Do you see the connections or am I just slinging some manure? Comment and discuss below!
Until next time, good luck, good reading, and good writing!
Because all proper sneak peeks come in threes, I present the current manuscript version of the third chapter of the third book in the Three Seconds to Legend book series. I expect to have The Twelfth Labor ready for publication by the end of February. Enjoy and keep your eyes peeled for a few more little tidbits and reveals to come in the next couple of weeks!
I write a lot of action scenes. Consider that, no matter the potential depth for narrative and character development, the genres I write in also demand a lot of action and direct conflict. One series of books is set in the superhero genre, a classification that can have entire comic book issues devoted to an extended action sequence, and the other is grounded in professional wrestling, a sport entirely about ‘let’s you and him fight!’. Certainly, I try to twist those genres and interject plenty of discussion, introspection, and character-building moments, but who am I to deny the fans of the genres I write in one of the things they expect? After four novels of action scenes, I think I’m starting to get a handle on it enough to talk about it in a more analytical sense. Today’s musings are part of that analysis. Specifically, what I want to talk about today is just how much detail and length should a writer devote to the action sequences in his book.
I think the first thing to note is that action isn’t always a direct physical conflict (though it often is). Moments of intense conflict where not a single punch is thrown can be a fulfilling form of action in and of itself, be it an emotion-laden argument between two lovers or a seemingly polite duel of wits between two enemies fought over a pleasant meal. Though much of my focus in this post is about physical action, you can transpose some of these ideas to other forms of action with minimal adjustments.
With that established, when contemplating how to approach an action scene, an author should consider how important this scene is to the overall plot. Is there any critical narrative or character impact in the scene or is it simply a minor plot point? The more important the scene is, the more length and detail should be devoted to it. While this seems really obvious, the fact is that it is easy to get carried away. Writing action scenes can be fun, after all, and it’s easy to invest yourself too much into lovingly detailing out every minor scrap you can find. Doing that, though, just bloats your scenes and bores the reader. Action has to lead to consequence or it’s wasted pages and the depth of that consequence should equal the length of the scene.
If you follow the traditional curve of a strong initial hook, then rising action to climax, the curve alone can provide a barometer of how deep you should make each sequence. The detail and strength of an action sequence should pretty closely map it’s position on the curve. Feel free to start an action novel with a bang, using a strongly written action sequence to start the book, then ramp down, using gradually swelling bits of action to lead to a showstopping climax. Again, this seems pretty logical, but if an author doesn’t properly structure the story, they can wind up fatiguing the reader with out-of-place intense sequences, leading them to just be, well, tired and burned-out by the actual climax. Left with a feeling of ‘what could possibly top that’, their suspension of disbelief can break and they may not buy into the importance of the true climax of the book.
If these main points seem to be saying the same thing in different ways, they are to a degree. The main rule of thumb should always be ‘importance = intensity’. No matter the type of conflict, the intensity of the action should never overstep the scene’s importance. Never use the genre as an excuse to overstuff your works with excess scenes and wordy baggage. This applies as much to a mystery or a disaster yarn as much as to a martial arts action novel. In a mystery, for instance, don’t waste excessive pages on the questioning of a minor witness that adds little to the unravelling or obfuscation of the ultimate mystery. That’s a waste of action as much as a two-chapter fight scene with a shoplifter in a superhero book.
How do you approach action in your own works? Do you see the action inherent in conflict that isn’t purely physical? Do you treat that conflict in a similar way as physical ones or do you approach them on a different level? Start the conversation in the comment section!
Part 2 of 3 of my sneak preview of the work on the next book in Three Seconds to Legend, The Tale of the Tape. Here’s the link!
Well, you win a coupon anyway!
I’m handing out some coupon codes for those that want to read my novels, but aren’t quite sure if they want to spend full price for them. It’s okay. I understand. New novelist, new genres, untested waters: we’ve all been there. So, for my blog readers out there, here’s a chance to dip your feet in my waters for 50% off.
These codes are only good for the appropriate book and specifically from Smashwords. There’s a link in my novel list page, but I’ll also include another link to my Author page at the bottom of this post. These codes expire on June 8th, so redeem while you can!
If you want to purchase Indomitable, the code is: RQ82C
If you want to purchase The Opening Bell, the code is: ZH95V
Finally, the link to my Smashboard Profile, which has links to both books, is:
Thank you and enjoy!