The biggest problem with incorporating action into a story — especially starting out with a bang — is the likelihood of things bogging down later. Rushing from event to event, attempting to escalate the action, can only go so far. It is fatiguing to the reader.
But slowing things after that big bang beginning can be a bit of a letdown and lead the reader to lose interest. That is why I prefer a slow burn, a leisurely pace. I am more interested in exploring the characters anyway. My two crime novels set in mythical Cully Beach amble along somewhat and that was my intention. I avoided turning them into action stories.
This is a particular problem, I think, with crime and mystery tales. Everything that happens pretty much needs to further the movement toward a solution. Subplots tend to be neglected — and I’m pretty big on interweaving subplots. I much doubt that I would ever write a straight detective novel.
I am working on something that may come close, so we shall see. It will not be fast-paced action; I promise you that right now. Now, there is plenty enough action in my fantasy tales. Duels and spells cast and ambushes and attempted assassinations — these are the sorts of episodes I weave into the plots to keep the readers’ attention. However, the novels are not about these things. No good novel is.
My goal, and that of any serious author, is not to entertain with my writing. Entertainment is a means to an end and that end is communication. The goal is to have something to say and to make it heard.
So my writing (though this applies to any and all art-forms) does attempt to be entertaining, yes, to get and keep the readers’ attention. More importantly, I strive to make it somewhat accessible . Some of it more so than some other, of course; the audience, the intent, plays a role in this. One novel or story might be more ‘literary’ in its style, and that style, of itself, is part of the process of communication. The medium is the message and all of that.
And the message is what counts. It’s the nutrition in our literary meal. The rest is the part that tastes good! So I’ll season it well, make sure it has an enticing aroma and is pleasing to the eye. I’ll even put it on an attractive plate — or behind an attractive cover. If action is what it takes, there will be action. But not so much action that the novel gets lost in it.
Incidentally, there is no action at all in the shortly to be released ASANAS. Oh, yes, yes, a drunk does get punched. That’s about it. It’s just humans doing human things and, ultimately, there is no better subject matter.