I’m an action girl. I love guns, intrigue, explosions, super-cool gadgetry and life-or-death situations. Don’t get me wrong – I also love Beatrix Potter and Winnie-the-Pooh and Jane Austen and all that adorable-hopelessly-romantic stuff that appeals to the girlie half of me. But I love pulse-pounding, heart-racing, high-tech stories and the amazing agents/double agents/triple agents that come with them. They’re also quite helpful in teaching you how to deal with the pesky life-or-death situations we run up against so often. For instance, they’ve taught me that –
1. Cool guys don’t look at explosions. They walk away from them in slo-mo. O yeah.
2. You can lift your head up and look around during gunfire as many times as you please, and you’ll be fine.
3. You can fall from a forty-foot-drop and survive with minor injuries (such as a broken rib or bad bruising).
4. A silencer completely muffles any and all guns, making them dead silent, even if you’re firing from 100 yards away.
5. No matter where you stab them, your knife will always embed up to the hilt in your enemy and kill them instantly. This is very handy.
6. The biggest, toughest guy who won’t even wince at being riddled with gunfire will whine like a baby when being tended to by a girl.
7. You can hack into any database in the world (or alien spaceship) in under thirty seconds using only your handy-dandy everyday laptop computer.
8. When running with the person you’re crushing on, don’t worry about getting to know them better. Every time you fall, you’ll fall on top of each other so you can stare dramatically into their eyes for about two minutes. Note: This is perfectly safe. The bad guys chasing you will leave you alone until you get up and start running again.
You’ve probably guessed by now that these are pretty sarcastic points (and if you haven’t, you might not want to read my blog just because. I really apologize) and yeah, I’m poking fun at action movies – but I’m quite serious when I say I really do love action and action movies. Sure, they stretch limits and people survive way more than they would in real life, but that’s okay because we’d be pretty bummed if our favorite main characters died the first time they got shot.
Some of my favorite movies – Live Free or Die Hard, RED, Eagle Eye, Knight and Day, Ghost Protocol (note: we have ClearPlay, which edits language, which action movies tend to favor. You have been warned) – are chock-full of bullets and fire and the snappy lines I love so much. And they’ve taught me a thing or two about writing an action novel, for which I am eternally grateful.
I learned how to craft and create action-hero characters who people will like – or who I tend to fall in love with, at least. I learned that the hero goes up in awesome points if he is
1. Wounded sympathetically (shot on the job, etc.)
2. Wounded heroically (saving someone else, for example)
3. Has no one to help him take care of his wounds (poor baby)
4. Has morals. I don’t like main character ‘heroes’ who are just ‘punch and shoot and blow stuff up yaaaaaay! Kill all da peoples!’ – I love it when they have standards. They don’t just randomly shoot people, they kill only when they have to, they don’t hurt women unless absolutely necessary, etc. These really make me sympathize with the character and love them even more.
However, if you’re writing an action novel, look out – you want it to be realistic. You can’t knock a guy across the room with a pistol bullet (sorry, Dekker, thank you, Max) and a silencer does NOT totally kill any and all sound from a gun. (They muffle and suppress the ‘flash,’ and work much better at close range than long distance). Roundhouse kicks aren’t generally a good idea, even if they pack more of a punch. You can’t actually survive a fifty-foot drop off a building, and driving a flashy sports car isn’t a good idea if you’re spying on someone. You don’t actually hit somebody every time you fire, even if you’re the main character. And hanging onto the roof of a moving car is really rather tricky.
Know Thy Reality, and don’t push the boundaries too much. (That’s why fantasy is so much easier than realistic… aish… I used to only write fantasy and I could push any boundaries I liked! Now with UNIT and Target Acquired and Enemy in Sight, things are a lot harder. But they’re also quite fun. I love writing about agent-assassin-people, in case you can’t tell). So – go for it! Are you writing an action novel? Take Sherlock’s advice and do your research – but have FUN! And don’t believe everything you see in movies.
Even if it looks awesome.