Friday, March 16, 2018

Get the Facts and Don't Shoot Yourself in the Foot

We've all heard "write what you know," but the fact is we don't know everything. That's why we do research!

Many of us love to read and write mysteries and crime thrillers. In them, there may be military, law enforcement personnel, or shooting sportsmen. Our history was built by people who had to defend their land and defend our country by force. If you chose to write about someone who uses a firearm, be sure you get it right. Otherwise, avoid it. Not only are firearms controversial, but they are complicated.

I recently read a novel about an investigator who carried a gun. I'm no expert, but something sounded off. Out of curiosity I did a bit of research and found a plethora of information, thanks to the internet.
(If I make a mistake here, my apologies, what I want to do is share some good resources I found for firearm safety, ammunition, recoil, sounds, smells, handling, weight, type, etc.)

The people that participate in the forums will usually answer questions if you let them know you are an author and what situation the character will be dealing with. It's important that we describe the weapon accurately, handling, as well as the accouterments used. Just do a Google search on gun and shooting forums, and you'll find quite a few. For general gun information, there is a forum called "The High Road."

If you know what type of weapon, you may find a dedicated forum, for example, Colt 1911, Smith & Wesson, Glock Talk, etc. If you need to understand and describe what happens when the weapon is used there are shooting ranges in most communities with staff who will help answer questions or even allow you to rent and shoot.

I was astounded to realize all ammunition is not the same. They were all bullets to me, but the bullet is actually the projectile at the end of the cartridge. There are shotgun shells with pellets inside and even lead balls used in the old cap and ball revolvers. "Round" is a generic term that we could consider using instead.

Pistols can be automatic or revolvers. Oh, and in the automatics, they use "magazines," clips were used during WWII and expelled when they were empty with a distinctive "ping."  There are single action and double action, pumps, shotguns, and rifles and if we are going to use them in our stories, we have to know which is appropriate for the time and place. See what I mean about complex?

Enjoy the journey, my writing friends and avoid shooting yourself or your story in the foot by not doing the research. Have fun!

Facebook: Bonnie D Tharp Books
Amazon: Bonnie Tharp Author Page


Jacqueline Seewald said...


Just like you, I've had to do lots of research for each of my novels--and that includes contemporaries. I know little about weapons and so I had to find out as well. I love googling because a lot of info is available. But I also continue to use reliable books as reference sources.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Me, too. And I ask my friends that have some experience with whatever I'm looking into. Research can be very interesting.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

The mystery short story writers group on Yahoo has a large group of mystery writers who also write novels. They are a good resource for all kinds of info.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Nice post, Thanks for aware me all these things. I love to read mysteries and crime novel. I always download eBook copy rather than purchasing a heavy book. Recently I download ebook copy of The Atlantis Gene and read the full story of the novel and enjoy to read the story.

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