Sebastian Jensen's picture
Sebastian Jensen July 3, 2014 - 4:41pm

I recently had a breakthrough revelation that a lot of my writing problems actually stem from the fact that I have been trying to do too many things at once. I´ve been trying to be literary, laboring Proust-like over each word, working the word processor as if it was a painters easle, stringing together words chosen for their texture rather than their meaning, inspired greatly by heroes like Gibson, Pynchon and Burroughs. On the same time, I´ve always had an affinity for the late night tv cheese of american pop culture; my mind is congested with ameritrash visions of ruthless drug lords, ninja hackers, flesheating bugs and trigger happy junkie hookers. So it has always been my ambition to kind of land somewhere between Dostoyevsky and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a literary sweet-spot that I honestly don´t know if it´s possible to reach. At least not if I want to get anywhere close to the 1,000 words per day that I think I need if I am going to make a career out of my writing. So what I am doing now, is, I am cutting the crap basically, and it makes writing a hundred times more fun because it is quicker and not as serious. On the flip side, the quality of the language is not as great, but it really doesn´t matter because I always have my poetry to get _that_ part of my creativity out of the system. Trouble is, I am not exactly super well-read when it comes to the fast-paced stuff.

So what I really wanted to ask you guys is if you know who is really good at writing action without coming across as being to cheesy? Who is the Foster Wallace of fast cars, danger, fire and knives? Who writes the best beat-by-beat shootouts, knife fights and car chases out there? I am looking for good examples of this stuff and it doesn´t really matter if the rest of the book is shite.


Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore July 3, 2014 - 9:18pm

Chuck Wendig comes to mind. His stuff is hilarious with a pretty good amount of action, but still well-written.

There's a book by Thomas Pluck called Blade of Dishonor (which I have not read) that's gotten praise for the kind of stuff you're talking about.

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby July 3, 2014 - 10:02pm

Here's a thought: Relax: Chill. You sound really stressed. Get your mind off what you are obsessing about; get stoned and/or laid, have a drink, play with your kids, workout, walk, go to the museum, whatever will help you kick it down a notch.

Holiday weekend, dude (that is, if you're American? Fourth of July?---might not be your thing; if not, oops and sorry.

When you let your mind rest/wander/sleep, you get your best feedback/inspirations/strikes of lightning. This will also help you focus. Or you may need meds. They work for me.  Just saying.  Daytrana patch is magic!!  

:) - Cheers!



R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest July 3, 2014 - 10:28pm

Hi S.J.

Below is a list of authors that I've read who might be the answer to some of your questions. Don't discount watching some of that "Ameritrash.' I've had a lot of ideas grow from watching a movie or television show. Hope this list helps in some way. 


Elmore Leonard: His work is fun, fast-paced, and, well written. And Elmore's dialogue is second to none.

Andrew Vachss: Fast-paced, well written, good action and car chase scenes.

Duane Swierczynski: Fast-paced as well, very fun, his work has a comic book feel (he also writes comic books).

Mickey Spillane: Pulp writer of the Mike Hammer series, one of the greatest detectives ever written. 

Lawrence Block: Pretty much anything. His Hitman series is my personal favorite.

Ken Bruen: An Irish author of hard-boiled and noir fiction. I haven't read too much of this work, but what I have I liked. It was taut, very minimal, violent, and fun.

Raymond Chandler: Simply because he's one of the best crime authors to have lived.

Max Allan Collins: is shit's fun, well thought out, and very entertaining. Check out his Quarry series.

Bret Easton Ellis: I'm going to go ahead and put American Psycho on this list. Ultra violent, yet so elegantly written. While a lot of the violence is over-the-top and not humanly possible, it is a good study of writing graphic violence.

Ryu Murakami: A Japanese author who wrote Audition. He also wrote In The Miso Soup. Both books great studies on violence, especially that of knife violence. His work is also a good study of tension building.

Jo Nesbo: The Norwegian author of the Harry Hole series. Just very well written and very well plotted.

Richard Stark: Aka Donald Westlake. Haven't read his work in awhile, but I know it's damn good.

Jim Thompson: On of the classics that a must to read.

Jason Starr: Haven't read his work in awhile, but he's a great writer. He also collaborated with Ken Bruen on  a couple books for Hardcase Crime.

Christa Faust: Great author and a great study of kickass female protagonists.



Sebastian Jensen's picture
Sebastian Jensen July 6, 2014 - 10:36am

Hey R. Moon & Gordon Highland, thanks for a bunch of good book tips. I will check them out. Of course I know Chandler and Spillane, but the rest there was pretty much new names for me. Exactly what I am hoping for!


justwords thank you for your concern, but I am actually a pretty relaxed person, despite my ramblings. Getting laid would certainly not hurt me though. 

justwords's picture
justwords from suburb of Birmingham, AL is reading The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson; A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby July 7, 2014 - 8:21pm

Getting laid never hurts!! :)

Moon has an awesome list! I haven't read Gordon's suggestions, but he's always a great resource.