How Many Explosions Can I Fit in 60,000 Words Again?

So I’ve been reading a lot of writing books lately and a lot of them talk about theme. You need to start with a great theme. Or characters that resonate in your soul or a bunch of other crap, I don’t know that’s usually the point that I zone out and just start flipping through the pages, sort of passively taking things in. I know, that sounds really, really bad but it’s the truth.

I mean I get it. The Speak of the Devil series started with Faith whispering in my ear, this sort of almost fully formed character with a potty mouth and a story to tell. Then when I started the Chronicles of Nerissette that all started with the idea of “I want something my daughter can read” and evolved to why is there a picture in my head of this girl in long skirts telling off a dragon as he flies her—upside down—across a lake, dunking her head in as he goes. And so Allie was born and the scene became part of her second book.

So okay I get where these books are coming from. But I have a hard time grasping the idea that someone I know has sat down and said “I want to write a book to show the world that true loves conquers anything.” Maybe there are people out there that have done that. Maybe it’s even some of my other writer buddies. But me? Most of the time my books begin with “how the heck did she fall off that cliff?” or in the case of a new series I’m typing away on—“exactly how many explosions, snipers, and high speed car chases can you fit into a 60k novel? What happens if you turn it into a three book series? Do you have to do a straight linear multiplication (aka for those not math inclined # of allowed explosions*3) or do you get a bit more leeway to throw a few more in like a fudge factor (# of explosions*3+6 for fudging)? Does it matter if you can claim the explosions add to the plot? If I go old school do I get a bonus or can I have a few more if my bombers are savvy?

You know what? Maybe that’s okay though. Maybe the world needs both types of writers. Maybe the world needs the serious “the theme of you are your heart resonates through this book loud and clear like the pealing of bells” writers for Monday through Friday and the writers who are just trying to squeeze one more high speed thrill into the novel for the weekends? Maybe I’ll have that printed on a t-shirt “Monday through Friday my brain is a temple of Shakespearean literature. On the weekends it’s a smut filled, explosion packed amusement park.”