By John Tuttle

The adventure story has a fond place in many a heart, especially my own. Our lives are our own adventures, with every day a new path on which to trek into the unknown. The action-adventure story often starts with a bit of a jolt or a jump.

Take J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings, for instance. It is the story of the courageous happenings surrounding peculiar small creatures: hobbits, the most unlikely of peoples to display valor in the face of extreme peril. Yet, it is from these common and simple folk that the heroes arise. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins is swept off on an adventure which begins with an unexpected party – which he didn’t know he was hosting!

Bilbo famously says in Peter Jackson’s first Hobbit film: “I’m going on an adventure!” He yells it gleefully as he runs down the road to meet his travel companions. In many ways, this personifies the hype which an adventure can instill. And as a creative writer, it is your job to compose a literary piece of art which possesses this hype, the thrill of an adventure.

Ageless Authors invites senior writers age 65 and older to enter your adventure stories in the current contest, which ends Friday, March 15. I am the leader of the team that will judge entries in this exciting category. My team will decide who receives cash prizes and which will be published in the next anthology of best work next fall. We are all excited to judge the adventure stories of the senior writers who submit to this contest by going to agelessauthors.com/current-contests/.

Writing is a beautiful, unique medium. We see it everywhere, but not all of it is meaningful. In creative writing, make your words count. If you sit down and intend to write a short story, then write a short story, not a novel. The action-adventure genre is fulfilled when the action takes the primary role in advancing the story’s plot. With this in mind, you don’t want to neglect character development, an element I feel is seen less and less in modern storytelling.

Use a photo as a metaphor. The photo is currently undeveloped, or perhaps the image is black and white. At this stage, your story is merely an idea. Now comes the work, turning it into something which will captivate and hold the reader’s attention. Now you can colorize the photo. Even then, the photo is flat and depicts but a single frame. We need to hear the story behind the picture.

How do we go about doing that? Well, as with any type of writing, there is a rough sort of outline which is good to follow. Whatever its length, a modern, captivating adventure tale is not going to have a slow beginning with an extensive description of the characters’ surroundings. Instead, you will weave a more alluring story when it starts off with something out of the ordinary, eventful, or exciting. Your story could even begin in the midst of action, say a scene of preparation for battle or a scene of something momentous happening such as a coronation. The story must be interesting to the reader from the beginning. It needs to involve characters directly and is usually more intriguing when it includes an element of the dramatic.

For example, I started off a story I am writing with a scene from the main character’s infancy in which he is abandoned by his parents. It captures the attention and the heart of the reader, immediately connecting the audience with the fictional character. Many authors use this simple technique, and it can take innumerable forms. Generally, even as the story progresses, you will want to refrain from fully describing (in great detail) all the characters’ surroundings. It takes away from the event at hand. The action should carry the scene. Plus, all good writers choose to leave some aspects of a story in obscurity to give the reader’s imagination something to envision entirely on its own. Dialogue should be used but usually not constantly. Those are the basics, but bend the framework to your unique creativity.

Personally, I have a soft spot for sci-fi and fantasy tales. I feel sci-fi broadens the storyteller’s horizons since the genre allows absolutely anything to become reasonably (more or less) possible. But historical fiction, historical drama, and other genres can be just as engrossing and as believable.

I encourage you to put pen to paper and show us what you’ve got, and do it before March 15. This could be fun.