Where Have All The Detectives Gone

Why does chick lit seem to get all of the attention? I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of Nora Roberts, Jennifer Weiner, and even Nicholas Sparks capturing the vast majority of the reading public’s as well as the news media’s attention. When I sit down to read a book, I want action scenes and plenty of them. I want a strong male lead that is bound and determined not to take crap from anyone, including the freak with a machete in one hand and an AK-47 in the other. I want explosions, bar fights, gun fights, car chases, and rooftop scuffles. The more the merrier. And I don’t want to get in touch with my feelings, unless I’m being dragged by the collar into the heart of the action, and I come out on the other side with more bruises than I can count on both hands.

So what’s gone wrong? There was a time—and not all that long ago—when Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler ruled the page and gathered a large handful of memorable quotes, as well as a passionate audience that extended around the globe. A time when Ian Fleming was a literary genius, and James Bond developed a massive following that extended beyond the page to the widescreen. You may argue—and you would certainly be correct—that James Bond is still alive and well today, with the great Jeffrey Deaver writing the latest James Bond masterpiece, and Daniel Craig showing his prowess on the big screen. But James Bond has had two periods of dormancy on the big screen, most recently related to the financial struggles of United Artists. While James Bond is still popular, and will continue to remain so, he has lost a bit of his charisma and casual charm.

Embrace Strong Masculine Leads

We shouldn’t shy away from strong, masculine leads; on the contrary, we need to embrace these characters with open arms. Men have discarded reading like a pair of day old socks, with over 80% of readers being female. But all hope is not completely lost. We have what Stephen King has called MANfiction, a genre still alive today. Lee Child, Michael Connelly, and Robert Crais are three MANfiction authors, who are building large followings in their own right. And you have new authors, like yours truly, breaking onto the scene year after year. But we need more. MANfiction is escapist fiction for men the way chick lit is escapist fiction for women. It brings us to the very heart of what manliness is about, and it reminds us that no matter where we live, or what profession we are in, there’s someone out there who can kick some serious butt, and he’s going to use his mouth and his fists to point himself in the right direction. It’s a wakeup call on the essence of manhood, and if you like to read, I can’t think of a better form of entertainment. Men can learn a lot about being men, especially if the good guys normally win. MANfiction transcends the page to the very heart of unadulterated living.

How To Create MANfiction

If you’re a man, and you want to spin such a tale, what do you need to do? In this case, it’s all about the main character, and you want him to be as bold as the next Presidential candidate. His feelings should be shown with a .44 Magnum or brass knuckles. In fiction, leave relationships to women, unless we’re talking about short-lived endeavors. Let’s face it men, they are better at it than we are. We still need to try, because there’s something to be said for effort, but once in a while, it’s nice to focus on what we’re good at, take pride in it, and relish it for all that it’s worth: conflict spoken through a boxing match or a grenade launcher. If you’re writing a romance novel, or paranormal suspense, because it’s popular right now, then you might want to take a step back and reevaluate your situation, along with possibly your manliness. Popularity ebbs and flows like the ocean in the middle of hurricane season. You can’t trust it, and you certainly can’t judge where it will be tomorrow. But you can count on men, massive amounts of them to read MANfiction, as men continue to read men, not because it’s popular, but because it’s ingrained in our core, to the heart of our existence. Even some women enjoy action, strong male leads, and the occasional dip into the MANfiction pool. All you have to do is mention the name Jack Reacher, and you’re liable to get a few rosy cheeks and a few women short of breath.

Leave Feelings Out Of It

So what about your feelings? Talking about feelings isn’t something men normally do, and it’s not something that should be present in MANfiction. Instead of talking with their mouths, men talk with their fists. And it’s the exact same scenario in MANfiction. Delivering quick wit, however, is highly encouraged, and oftentimes necessary to get your point across. But a little bit of dialogue and introspection goes a long way. No need to prolong the inevitable, when the next action sequence is right around the corner, and the man on the other side has barbells for arms and a refrigerator for a chest.

Less is often more, and it’s very much the case with MANfiction. If you can use flowery words, vivid descriptions, and create imagery that will make the clouds part and the seas divide—don’t. It’s a waste of space, a waste of words, and readers are likely to skip over it to the next big fight scene. Of course, you don’t want to completely skip over description—that’s not what I’m advocating for—but you don’t want to bask in all of its glory and have it be the heart of your novel either. When, like description, there are plenty of other novels you can read. If you want a good, old-fashioned, ride-of-your-life, hanging to the cliff by your fingernails sort of ride, then grab your paperback, hardback, Kindle, or Nook, raise it high—like you would your bottle of Bud—and salute MANfiction for all that it was, all that it is, and all that it can be. You’ll be glad you did.

Embracing MANfiction

It doesn’t matter if you’re a reader of MANfiction, a writer who has an idea for the next masculine lead, or someone who has never picked up a hard-boiled tale, it’s time to embrace these novels for the escapist fiction that they are, before chick lit takes over the world. MANfiction provides the yin to chick lit’s yang, and the world needs both to balance out the universe.