Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: 'A Is For Action' by Dan Alatorre

Author and humorist Dan Alatorre became a first-time dad at the age of 47 - a daughter by the name of Savvy. His comedic debut book "Savvy Stories" tells humorous tales about a loving dad who sees the magic in children, and isn't a bumbling stooge about changing diapers like some TV sitcom. Dan was born in Ohio, and graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida before earning an MBA from Tampa College. Dan lives in the Tampa area. Now. After his many successes in writing humor Dan turns his attention to Action stories and how to write them His frequent editor Allison Maruska joins Dan in this self-help book for wannabe fine action writers.

Dan opens this instructive book with an example of how he can assist us in writing action scenes – ‘Every new author (and a lot of veteran authors) have the same problem when it comes to action scenes. They have this idea for a big battle scene or car chase – but most don’t know where to start! I’ll show you. This won’t necessarily be THE way to do every action scene in every book you write, but it’s ONE way to do it. Discover a better way – go with that! I’m easy that way. One of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen or read was the big battle in the movie Braveheart. (I like to use movie references because if a book sells a million copies, it’s a runaway bestseller, but if a movie only sells a million tickets, it’s a big time flop. People tend to know movie references, so by using them I can reach an understanding of what we are trying to accomplish, and reach it with more people.) Using the movie Braveheart, we will make a complicated action scene easy to visualize, understand, and write. After the Braveheart example, we’ll lay out how other types of action scenes are done, like a car crash, and the writing style you can use in action scenes that isn’t utilized elsewhere in your story. Car chase or medieval battle, we can create a process to follow. I like to use Braveheart because pretty much everybody saw it and knows the big battle scene I’m referring to. While every action scene is different, many have similar foundations. Bullitt and The Blues Brothers contain car chases that are very different from each other, but many elements are the same. (I also tend to lean toward older movies because odds are people have seen them or know them.) The big battle scene in Braveheart may be one of the best action scenes of all time. Using it, we will see what a complicated action scene looks like – and how we can take it from inside our heads to written into one of our stories.’

The book is well written and follows this outline - Where To Start? 10 steps to getting your big action scene – regardless of size and epicness - from idea to written form, The Pre-Action Scene, Dissection Of A Classic Movie’s Medieval Battle Scene, Analysis Of The Battle We Are Dissecting Use Of Different Structure And Punctuation In Action Scenes, Other Parts Of An Action Scene Plus The Writing Technique Layering In A Car Chase Or Any Action Scene, Reaction Before Action, Adverbs, And Other Screw-Ups, and The Last Big Mistake.

Even in a teaching course Dan retains his consummate gift of humor – something that makes his ideas accessible and stay with us. Grady Harp, April 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.