The action/adventure genre is most often defined by a protagonist that takes on some sort of heroic quest, where they must prove their own worthiness. Most of the time, if that
protagonist should fail their task, dire consequences could befall them or the people being protected by the heroic act itself. There is always some type of antagonist in an action/adventure tale that tries to do everything in their power to thwart the efforts of the protagonist.
There are several elements of the action/adventure genre that make this sort of tale appealing. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of an action/adventure tale.
A Likeable hero.
This character follows a moral code, even if it is sometimes outside the law and uses his skills and ingenuity to extricate himself and
those with him from dangerous or volatile situations.
An unlikable antagonist, or villain if you prefer.
This character has no moral code, and is almost always outside the law, using their skills and ingenuity to thwart everything the hero does. This character loves being bad.
There is always physical action.
Characters are often placed in extreme situations.
Almost always fast paced.
The tale may start slow, but the pacing always builds toward the middle and end. The action pulls the reader along and into the story building
toward a culminating event.
Violence of some kind is always an element of an action/adventure tale, no matter how large or small that violent act might be.
The violence in an action/adventure tale is usually graphically described. An example of this would be a battle description.
The setting is usually changeable
It moves from place to place as we follow the protagonist through his journey. The setting is important because it underlines the sense
of danger and obstacles to be overcome.
When thinking of the action/adventure genre, most people think of a tale filled with excitement and danger, a tale that will keep them on the edge of their seat, turning pages
until the very end. Tales such as Homer’s “Odyssey” fall into the classic view of the genre. However, this genre is very flexible and in many instances, becomes blended with
another genre to make a cross-genre tale.
Cross-genre is a term used in fiction and media that refers to the blending of themes from two or more genres. A classic example of cross-genres would be fantasy and science
fiction. When we take a closer look at tales such as Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”, Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, and many others we see the elements of the
action/adventure genre, but we also see other genres mixed within to make a very appealing combination.
Take “Lord of the Rings” for instance. In this epic tale we see many genres including but not limited to:
This genre is obvious because of some of the main characters such as elves and dwarves.
This genre is a bit more low-key, but we do see it with several different couples throughout the entire tale.
This genre also becomes obvious with the battle descriptions and the fact that Frodo and his friends are on a quest for the greater good of Middle Earth.
We have our heroes and antagonists and if the heroes should fail in their quest, Middle Earth would cease to exist as they all know it.
If you’re thinking of writing in the action/adventure genre or you already do write in this particular genre, remember you can always combine elements of other genres into
your tale if need be to make it more appealing or to set a different pace for your tale. March to the beat of a different drum as so many great authors in history have and you are
sure to create a tale that is lasting in the minds of your readers; one they will come back to again and again.