W is for… (#AtoZChallenge 2012)

W is for Weapons

(Post 23 on my WIP)

With Friday came ‘Weapons Training and History of Weapons’. Professor Rachel Harris, a leggy woman with waist length blonde hair and Sergeant Derek Adams, just the right amount of buff with short cropped hair, looked like a couple from the pages of a celebrity gossip magazine, Jane thought.

Here’s my vision of Derek and Rachel.

Now guns and weapons in general are not my sort of thing at all but I can see this needing to be an area that I need to research a lot more. I even wonder if, because I write a scene about gun training, whether it would be beneficial to try this myself – I have no idea even how I would go about arranging something like this, and being very anti-violence I’m not sure how it would make me feel.

‘I have fired an AK42, Gunman 12 and an Utiger’s.

Now here is where I wish I made better notes to myself as I write because some of the guns mentioned above, by one of my characters, are made up. I can do this if I’m setting my book in the future ;o). When Googling I found AK42 was real (I’d remembered that too), pretty sure I made up Gunman 12 and I can’t find Utiger’s so I guess I made that up too but I’ve no idea how. Randomly when I Google ‘Utiger’s gun’ it takes me to an Amazon review by Utiger of a spray gun!! If anybody actually knows Gunman 12 or Utiger’s are real please let me know because my brain has clearly forgotten.

How good at you at keeping track of how/where your ideas originate? (I will be using the notes feature in Scrivener to sort this out in future – if I remember that is).

Writers make up things all the time – do you think it’s enough to have seen lots of TV programmes/films or read other books that discuss a topic or should you talk to someone who has had an experience or even (obviously within legal, ethical, moral limits etc) experience something yourself? Clearly I can’t see myself eating a raw steak or taking drugs or doing anything illegal or violent so how do we write about these things? Personally I try and use writing at times to make sense of the world around me, particularly with things I don’t understand. But, when you publish a book how forgiving are readers? If I describe a gun scene where something happens that would never happen in real life is that going to be accepted within my story or could it make a reader put the book down? Clearly we can’t always stick to what we know but where does the responsibility to make something as accurate as possible end?

And on that note what is the strangest/most extreme thing you have done in the name of writing research?

Posted on April 26, 2012, in #am writing (and all things writing related), April A-Z Challenge, Training Time (WIP) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. My mate over at It Takes A Woman tried to post this but it wouldn’t work.

    I think if your character fires a gun, personally I would want to try that just to see what emotions and feelings that provokes. It might be useful, might not depending on how much gun action is in your book. But I also don’t think it’s essential to do so if you have strong feelings about it and this again depends on the type of gun action you have. Divergent for example, there are guns and Tris’s feelings about holding one but not a great amount of detail about the guns themselves – tweet Veronica and ask if she fired a gun before writing it!

    As a point of note, as I had understood it (maybe wrong) the numbering of guns is based on the bullet calibre so you could get away with maybe not even naming them, but just saying the character had shot (eg) .45 calibre handguns and .50 calibre rifles…

  2. So it looks as if a few of my mates would be up for an outing to experience this so watch this space.
    I’ve also asked the question of Veronica on her tumblr blog so would be interested in her answer.
    Interesting point re gun calibre – definitely need to do more research.
    Thanks Stacey

  3. Veronica answered me – thanks Veronica that was quick:

    theartofnotwriting answered you:
    Hi Veronica. There is a lot of gun action in Divergent. I’m writing a book which involves my characters getting training in gun use and I wondered if you have fired a gun or felt the need to as part of your research? What’s the oddest thing you have done in the name of research? Thanks.

    I have definitely felt the need to, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. The guns in Divergent are pistols, and I’ve held one of those before, but I basically had to google a lot of things, and I’m afraid I didn’t do quite enough research for Divergent— trust me, you’re better off doing it early and as much as you can!

  4. I don’t think you *need* to have fired a gun, but I think it would be helpful from a descriptive point of view – how the gun feels in your hand, if it bucks as you fire it, that sort of thing. Personally I’m more interested in the emotional reaction of the characters than in the details of the weaponry being absolutely accurate. Even if I spotted an inaccuracy I doubt it would spoil my enjoyment of the book.

    I remember Agatha Christie writing an author into some of her whodunnits, and this author was a ridiculously disorganised person who complains about people who write into her complaining about her inaccuracies in her books! “Who *cares* if I’ve got the wrong flowers all out together. As if it *matters*” etc, which I found very entertaining. I think if there *is* an inaccuracy somewhere, then some pompous ass somewhere will feel dutybound to inform you! The trick is not to stress about it!

    I think if I were writing something I’d be tempted to stage it in a fantasy world just so’s I don’t have to worry about every detail.

    • I fully get the lure of the fantasy world but I think that comes with pitfalls too, like not setting up world ‘rules’ clearly enough or just bending/breaking them to suit the story and get the characters out of a tricky situation.
      I agree that for me it would be about the emotional reaction and I know it isn’t a need but I just wonder if I would be able to capture that feeling more authentically.
      Gotta love Agatha Christie – I need to learn not to let things stress me so much but I do.

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