Just found a cool video of Larry Correia talking about authors who mess up gun stuff in their books, and why we should care.
There are countless books where I totally stop reading for a moment just because something impossible, improbably, or just dumb happens with guns, its distracting and can inadvertently change your impression of the story or the characters.
To pick on myself, as a young man I had aspirations of becoming a fiction author (I have since settled for being a blogger), and one of my stories was a tough New York cop who was modeled after the action movies of the 80s and 90s that I loved…lots of gun play, no knowledge of guns on my part, and it was full of foolish mistakes. The best example was this character’s sidearm was a Colt SAA. Why? Well because I had a toy replica of one, and thought it looked cool. Oh, and BTW the toy was a double-action cap gun!
The character grew up in a gun shop and learned at an early age how to shoot, so it was assumed and claimed he was an expert in them. Also a SAA is hardly a bad gun. Still I had scenes where he was quickly reloading, and never an explanation on WHY he carried such a unique gun.
I was actually thinking about it the other day, and I suspect that if I re-wrote this *awful* story today the gun would more likely be a Colt 1911, or a S&W Model 29, or 25. Those would have made a LOT more sense, but I didn’t know. Of course just because YOU don’t know, doesn’t mean NOBODY else does.
Reminds me of a writing panel at a small local convention a few years back. The question of “how do you research things like guns for your books?” came up. Most of the panel cited wikipedia or the like, one of them simply said “I ask Oddball.”
He carried it because “Fuck you that’s why”. 😉
Since I have become more knowledgeable about guns than when I was an utter and complete n00b, several books have hit the wall when I came across something I just could not stomach. The worst was when the main character was supposed to be a gun expert and worked in a gun store, but was feeling “the cold steel of her Glock” in her hands. ::EPIC FACEPALM::
I try to ignore things like “clip” instead of “magazine” or “bullet” instead of “round”. But it’s still painful. If you’re going to include firearms in your book, you need to do your research, as you should about anything, really.
Maybe she was holding the Glock by the slide?
Well if ‘she’ was then she was doing it wrong!
Have yet to throw a book across the room for stupid gun comments/usage but I do correct (usually kindly) misuse of terminology such as ‘clip’ instead of magazine – usually point out the misuse and refer to myself as a purist……….
The biggest problem with books/articles etc is that there is supposed to be an editor that catches those things……….
I too haven’t tossed a book simply because the author flubbed a gun, and like Christina, I’m willing to forgive a clip/magazine gaffe.
Still it does create artifacts that the author doesn’t intend. One novel I was reading the protagonist was a woman who saw something she shouldn’t saw, and the villain hired an assassin to tie up the loose ends.
His gun was a Sig P245, which won some style points in my book. Also the author took the extra step of counting the rounds the gun held.
…only the gun went dry after firing SIX shots. You’re telling me that an expert hit-man who chooses to use a compact pistol as his sidearm ISN’T going to top off his mag before he holsters?
Everything else about the character was smart and ruthless…but I couldn’t get past why he wouldn’t carry that extra round in his gun. Was it author ignorance, or the killer’s odd idiosyncrasy?
It was needlessly distracting. Still was a good story, and I greatly enjoyed it, but honestly I can’t remember much of the story or even the name or the name of the author, but I DO remember that scene with the SIG….
That’s Hollywood again. Every time someone pulls out a gun of any type, he points it at his enemy, makes snarky comments, and then racks the slide or works the bolt or pumps the action. If movies and television are correct, any time someone points a gun at me, I’ll have at least half a minute to grab it before the owner chambers a round.
The authors of English spy novels tend to be pretty bad offenders in this regard- the classic “like a brick through a plate glass window” in regards to the .32acp fmj, for instance. But I don’t mind so much as they really don’t exactly have a gun culture there.
Yeah, that line really gets me snickering. Even in the ’50 7.65x17mm was a mild pistol round.
Still compared to the .25 said spy was turning in, it was a step up.
The worst example I can think of was a somewhat decent crime/horror book from the mid ’90s.
It had a FBI profiler armed with a Browning Hi-Power, and during the shootout with the bad guy you find out that it was a full auto Hi-Power too.
Yep, that is a good one! 🙂
I write westerns, among many other things, so getting the gun details correct is an essential part of the process. My character is a pistolero who carries the Colt Navys that he used as a cavalry officer in the Civil War, and the speakers were spot on–I have to know everything about those old guns so I can put in shades of information here and there for realism.
This has ended up making a buddy of mine and me the voice of authority in our writers’ group. Whenever a gun shows up in a story, the writer turns to us–often with a sheepish look–to find out if it’s been done correctly. The good news is that since I take anyone to the range who’s willing to go, I’m creating enthusiasts while improving writing.