Formula for an Action-Adventure Bestseller

Special Agent Kathrin Night
Every action-adventure blockbuster needs babes, guns and explosions. Special Agent Kathrin Night drawn by Artist Bernie Shuman.

Yeah, yeah, I know: I shouldn’t be sharing this for free. So, what do I ask in return? Remember me when you’re at the opening night of your blockbuster film. And…you can always make a donation using the PayPal button on this page. You can’t really put a price on the advice I’m about to give you, but give it a shot. More zeros after the number in front and before the decimal point is a good start.

I know how it goes – you’re sitting there staring at your screen trying to figure out how to make that action-adventure work-in-progress into a grabbing, mind-blowing, future bestseller. Look, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve seen all the Rambo movies – so I know a thing or two. And I am now going to help you by taking the guess work out of this whole shebang for you. Follow my advice below, and you’ll be Hollywood-bound, my friend!

Formula for an action/adventure bestseller:

Your protagonist is a brooding former Navy Seal, Sniper, Agent or Janitor who suffers from PTSD, IBS, STD, or EIEIO and has dropped out of circulation. Of course, the secret governmental organization that needs his/her help can easily locate him/her because it is omniscient, and your hero really isn’t as good at hiding as you lead everyone to believe. Your character should have a strong, impenetrable name like Mason (for a male) or Pilar (for a female). You really need to go for the symbolism here. People love that sh…stuff. So, the secret governmental organization – let’s call it “Big Secret” or BS for short – talks Mason/Pilar into looking into whatever heinous plot is brewing since, of course, Mason/Pilar’s special skills make him/her the ONLY choice for this job out of the trillions of people in the world. Well, those special skills and the fact they look really good naked.

So Mason/Pilar goes to some exotic location and meets up – you guessed it – with a former co-worker who also happens to be a love interest and also looks really good naked. This agent/contact should have a sensual name like Felecia or Liam. They start out cold and stand-offish, but then something happens to make them realize that they are two peas in a pod, birds of a feather or just plain old desperate for some cuddling. Of course, nothing can happen yet; you need to build that sexual tension. Besides, they’re still not entirely certain they can trust each other since one of them probably shot the other last time they were together.

Whilst all this emotionally- and physically-charged to-do is playing out, introduce your bad guy. He should be strong, but freakish in some way, so that he intrigues yet disgusts the reader. He should also have some kind of a strange penchant for a pet – let’s say a little white dog. And you can make him wear a meat helmet. That’s always fun. Even though Mason/Pilar and Felecia/Liam are incredibly talented agents, your bad guy has absolutely no problem finding them and is perusing a collection of black and white surveillance photographs of the two of them. Now, it’s not that your agents suck at hiding, it’s just that they’re so good looking that people notice them. It’s a curse, really.

Before we move forward with the plot, keep in mind you should make your bad guy three dimensional. Give him some kind of a quirk – let’s say since he’s bad, he wears black – and since he loves his little white dog, well, he’s constantly picking fur off of his clothes. And, being the bad guy – what does he want besides to conquer the world? Well, he wants Pilar or Felecia, of course. (Switch out if your bad guy is a woman…or not.)

Your bad guy tries to kill Mason/Liam and attempts to kidnap Pilar/Felecia, but something goes wrong and a bunch of innocent people die because there’s a ridiculously huge explosion when the incendiary device diabolically lands in the deep fat fryer at the local donut shoppe. Mason/Liam is wounded and Pilar/Felecia must tend to him. Sweaty, dirty and battered…you guessed it: gratuitous sex scene here. Because no matter what, those two look fabulous.

When Mason/Liam wakes up, Pilar/Felecia is gone. Mason/Liam must now go to rescue her from the bad guy, and at the same time, save the world. What? Of course he knows the bad guy took her by the white dog fur left on the pillow case. Sheesh, do I have to write the whole thing for you?

So, Mason/Liam goes undercover to get into the bad guy’s lair and finds Pilar/Felecia bound and gagged. Once he frees her, the two take on the hundreds of armed men guarding the hide-out, manage to detonate the bad guy’s self-destruct security mechanism, and race out of the place in time to watch it explode behind them. And because they are truly good people – not just good looking – they rescue the little white dog as well.

The End.

You’re welcome.

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, photographer, and photo-journalist, author of over 30 titles, and executive director and administrator of Indies Unlimited. Brooks is currently a photo-journalist and chief copy editor for two NE Washington newspapers.  She teaches self-publishing and writing topics for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page.

26 thoughts on “Formula for an Action-Adventure Bestseller”

  1. hey, wait a minute – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this movie before…the hot janitor with EIEIO, the curvaceous agent Felecia (with that suggestive name) – but I’m sure the bad dude had a lint remover in the one I saw. What the hell – could be worth a re-make. Thanks for the tips!

  2. This is amazing! In a few brief sentences, you’ve summarized every last detail
    of all the Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies
    I’ve seen! As well, you’ve managed to encapsulate the essence of nearly every
    conceivable plot. Bravo!

  3. Yes, Kat, Bravo and I shall send you tickets to the premiere and you can be up on that stage right beside me…we’ll be basking in all the glory and drinking champagne from Mason/Liam’s…uh… gun holsters…yeah, that’s it gun holsters if they hold liquid, that is. My latest WIP has me stumped…what does the bad guy look like? But no fear, I have people watching skills I can put to use at the grocery store. 🙂

    1. THanks, Jacque! I think you should give your bad guy in your new WIP a unibrow. That way, your readers will feel sort of bad for him, yet repulsed at the same time. Why not, right? 😉

  4. What if, instead of trying to kill Mason/Pilar and trying to kidnap Felecia/Liam, I did it the other way around? Would that work? And I think a helicopter rescue from the top of a skyscraper would add that certain je ne sais quoi, you know? 😉

  5. LOL! Thanks, Kat, that’s the best laugh I’ve had all week – AND you helped to fix a couple of plot holes in my WIP. You’re ace!

  6. Thanks for that, Kat, I’ll make sure you get a mention in the credits. I also recently saw the latest ‘Bourne’ offering, so I’m thinking about throwing in some performance enhancing drugs into the mix. I don’t know much about drugs though, I might have to do some research; what is it the little blue ones do again?

    Thanks for the laugh, Kat.

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