The Key To Authentic Combat Action Scenes

What’s the key?  What makes a combat scene really “authentic?”

Pain.

There’s an old saying in the Recon community: “Recon ain’t fun.”  It’s pain and agony and suffering, only faced with the grit and perseverance to get through it and survive, to kill the enemy before they kill you.

Over on Tom Kratman’s wall on FB, the subject has come up of a young woman on a panel at Life, The Universe, And Everything 2017.  She claimed at one point that “gamers can write good action scenes, because we’ve experienced that.”  No.  No, you haven’t. Continue reading “The Key To Authentic Combat Action Scenes”

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Overtaken By Events

“Timeliness” is a temptation that I think most military/spy fiction writers have to deal with.  “Ripped from the headlines!” and “Prophetic!” are compliments that reviewers have used for works in the genre going back to Tom Clancy, at least.  Those same phrases have been applied to some of my own work, and I’ll admit that it can be somewhat affirming (though often in a grim sort of way) to see events move in a generally similar direction to that predicted in one of your novels.  It shows you that you read the situation fairly accurately. Continue reading “Overtaken By Events”

On Gun Porn

No, this isn’t about InRangeTV opening an account on PornHub.  (Yes, apparently that’s a thing.  No, I haven’t gone looking for it, nor will I.)  This is about the facet of much Action Adventure writing known colloquially as “Gun Porn,” wherein the author includes (and often lovingly describes) various cool and interesting firearms in the story.

This isn’t particularly new; a lot of Louis L’Amour westerns describe interesting (and sometimes obscure) weapons that aren’t commonly found in the run-of-the-mill western (particularly on screen).  But as with any element of storytelling, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Continue reading “On Gun Porn”

Rest Is For The Dead

That’s right.  I’m already hammering away at Brannigan’s Blackhearts #4 – Frozen Conflict.  If you’ve finished Enemy Unidentified, you might have a bit of a hint of what this one’s about.

I’m trying a bit of an experiment this time around; I’m working on this one simultaneously with working on The Unity Wars.  Write Frozen Conflict four days a week, work on The Unity Wars two days a week.  We’ll see how it works out.

Now, back to the word mines.

The Line Between Real and Rambo

I got talking action movies with a buddy recently, and we got on the subject of where the line of realism versus entertainment lies.  We’re both combat veterans, and we’ve both seen long periods of mind-numbing boredom and moments of chaotic weirdness that happen in combat.

There are often comments on action movies, and action novels, about how “realistic” they are.  And while some things are easy to quantify, some elements aren’t so much.  Including the question, “Just how ‘realistic’ should a piece of action entertainment be?” Continue reading “The Line Between Real and Rambo”

Why I Write Mercs

 

Mercenaries haven’t really been a staple of mainstream thrillers since the ’80s.  Tom Clancy introduced Jack Ryan, an analyst, as the hero of his techno-thrillers, and it seemed to set the tone for much of the genre to come.  Harold Coyle’s heroes were mostly tankers.  Dale Brown’s were bomber pilots.  As the GWOT got started, even the more shadowy operatives, like Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp and Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan were still directly operating within the government apparatus, if so black that they “didn’t exist.”

So, why did I go with mercenaries for the Praetorian series, Kill Yuan, and the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series?  Well, I think that has several answers. Continue reading “Why I Write Mercs”

Busy, Busy

I know, I haven’t been posting here much.  Need to get on that.  Probably need to do some scheduling.

But I’ve been busy.  Very.  I’ve got another new series in the works, and it’s more than a little different from anything I’ve done before.  I’ve played around with military action adventure, horror/fantasy, and heroic fantasy (though y’all haven’t seen that much of that yet).  But this is going to be science fiction.

Now, the funny part is that I originally started tinkering with writing, back in high school, with science fiction.  I still have notebooks (somewhere) of notes, starmaps, and starship diagrams from those days.  I had an entire sweeping timeline of wars between alien empires and human-alien alliances.  It was, to borrow a turn of phrase from Nick Cole and Jason Anspach, WingCommanderNotWingCommander with a leavening of StarWarsNotStarWars.  In fact, Task Force Desperate started out as a mil-fic backstory leading into the “21st Century Chaos” that was part of the backstory of what that epic evolved into.  (It isn’t anymore; the Praetorian Series became very much its own thing.)

What I’m working on now isn’t that particular epic.  It’s much more “The Clone Wars meets The Horus Heresy with a leavening of Hammer’s Slammers and Lensmen.”  It’s proving a bit more difficult than Brannigan’s Blackhearts; I’ve got to figure out more on the fly–there’s less that I can simply draw on from either quick research or personal experience.  Still, it’s coming along, and the wider series is getting quite a bit of an arc (several arcs, actually).  I’m pretty stoked about it, though it won’t be out for a few months (I’m planning on stacking the first several books before releasing the first, and I’ve got more Brannigan’s Blackhearts to write in between).  There will be a website for the series, with background notes, some free fiction, and even concept drawings and suchlike.  It’s not ready to go yet, but I’ll be spreading it around once it is.

The other thing about this series, since I’m genre-jumping, is that it won’t be released under my usual name.  David J. West, with his “James Alderdice” pseudonym has had some success in getting to an audience that he wouldn’t have otherwise.  Pen names are a long-standing tradition in pulp fiction (which, let’s face it, is what I write, regardless), and the way Amazon’s algorithm works, they are a useful tool.  In the interests of that algorithm, I won’t say what the pen name is going to be just yet, but I will eventually.

Back to the word mines.