Thanks, but I’m not really back. I just had to post that in response to all the nonsense I see coming from both writers and readers when a story deals with the subject of fighting with guns and other weapons.
I'm always turned off by such inaccuracies in a story, and I see them far too often.
Of course, the other side of the coin is that a huge percentile of people, even those with some training, are notoriously bad shots with a handgun. And this includes a lot of soldiers and cops I have known. It's one thing to shoot at paper targets or tin cans, and quite another to shoot at a human being, especially when your adrenalin is pumping hard.
Nobody knows what they would do when faced with a life or death situation. Some of the toughest talking men I knew in Vietnam froze or lost it in combat, and some of the quietest, most wimpy looking and sounding guys were deadly when the bullets started to fly.
Fortunately for most of us, we will never have to face an armed enemy, in war or at home. But it does happen. For those who might be interested, here is a blog post from a couple of years ago when we came home and found ourselves face to face with an armed burglar. http://gypsyjournalrv.com/2009/12/a-violent-encounter/
That is both interesting and scary. There was a small business owner in California who killed about five gang bangers over the years when they kept coming back to rob him. It became more about revenge than robbery.
Yes, Audie Murphy was a small, soft-spoken man, but deadly in combat. My post was about people, both writers and readers, who do not know enough about gun fighting to have a logical opinion or to write about such things.
And I agree with you. Do you have to have been in a gunfight to write about one? No, but you should do some research and maybe read accounts of those who have been. Do you have to have fired a 1911 Colt .45 to use one in your story? No, but again, you should do enough research to know what the recoil feels like, or that it's not uncommon to have an empty case eject and bounce off the top of your head. I read a story a while back in which the hero points his .45 across the seat in front of his woman passenger and fired three rounds at the bad gun, then drove away saying "That will slow them down!" Bullshit, fire a gun inside a car and you won't be able to hear for a while. Not to mention what the muzzle flash would do to that passenger.
LOL you are so right Master Nixter! I once had hubby do that to me (with a .22 and not directly in front of my face), his hand was resting on the window sill. He was aiming at a quail while we were romping through the desert. The retort from the .22 inside the car was enough to make my ears hurt. You'd probably bust your ear drums if it was a .45
Tim, I hate to keep agreeing with you, but you are dead-on right with this one. I had to stop reading Sharon McCrumb when she repeatedly had a character holding a "shotgun' one minute and a 'rifle' the next, and I have seen that safety error myself more than once. There are several series mystery writers who often get guns wrong, and only a few who get them right. While you know I am a solid Democrat, I am also from a farm family of hunters and military men, including three close relations who served combat tours in Vietnam, and others who have served more recently in Iraq. (All but a few stray cousins of these fine folks also remain good Dems, for that matter--they are armed to teeth, but realize that Clinton never came for their guns as the NRA promised, and neither will Obama.) Unlike some of my family members, I have never fired a handgun or rifle in self-defense, but I have killed many a small bird, paper target, clay pigeon, and distant plastic jug of water, and I have seen how well a good shooter can really shoot. If someone wants to write a story involving firearm use, they had better do a little research first.
I am also proficient in climbing and caving, and it is a rare writer indeed who gets either of these activities correct in fiction. I didn't know whether to be honored or outraged 7 or 8 years ago when it was clear to me from a cave scene in a Cussler novel that he (or his ghost writer of the moment) had gotten all of his caving knowledge from my nonfiction book on the subject, with some details lifted straight from it, and others fantastical and geologically impossible. Of course Trevanian, who was actually a sedentary college dean, got his caving details in Shibumi from a classic 1950 book about a French expedition, where the methods were never used again because they were foolishly dangerous and killed the principal explorer. So at least Cussler checked out a more recent book from the library. Then again, Nevada Barr spent a couple of weeks learning vertical and did a fairly hard-core trip with some good friends of mine when she was working on Blind Descent (in fact, one of her guides wound up being a main protagonist)--knowing this, and seeing her get details right in that book, made me trust her more in others.
This is so true. I read a zombie apocalypse story with this problem. The author did some research and found out that you can buy a rifle in New York. She armed her heroes with that rifle. She described it as an assault rifle. It was the Buck Horn 209, a muzzle loading black powder rifle. Not quite the same animal. This blunder destroyed an otherwise well written story for me.
Well, I reply with trepidation as after all the animosity that's been around lately I had told myself to keep off these boards.
IMO it depends on the genre.
I totally agree that if you're writing military fiction you need to make the fight scenes as accurate as possible. If you have no first hand experience, then you must research, or better still co-opt in a co-author who does have first hand experience but maybe no writing skills to supplement your lack of knowledge.
But now I'm probably going to get shot down in flames.
In a genre like fantasy romance, as far as I'm concerned the swashbuckling hero can be wielding a giant sword that defies the laws of gravity. I'm focusing more on his rippling muscles and how expertly he's about to ravish the heroine after he rescues her than the exact way he hacks off the villain's head.
As a writer, I'm a lot more discerning - not just in fight scenes but (I hope) in everything I write.
As a reader, if he's big, strong and handsome and about to give me a good ravishing, I couldn't care less if defies every law known to man.
I know that's pretty shallow, but reading is about escapism. If I wanted reality I could lie next to my husband and listen to him snoring.
Just thought I'd throw that in to give a different perspective and explain why so many vampire, fantasy books etc make it despite their total lack of realism. Not everyone's looking for the same thing.
As a writer, I do agree with your POV. I'm sure I make many mistakes, but I always write with the intention of keeping it real - up until the point where I choose to take poetic licence.
Amendment - in case my husband reads this and I end up in a messy divorce. I'm putting myself in the shoes of someone who might enjoy reading this sort of thing, you understand, not commenting on my own love life
And you see for me, the two images that immediately spring into my head are the topless girl popping out of the cake in Under Siege, closely followed by Tommy Lee Jones swinging his legs over the bridge controls while - is it Under the Watchtower? blasts out. Not a single Steven Segal fight scene springs to mind.
The multiple explosions in action movies are like lullabies. The more I see, the more I am put to sleep Now those are the fakest scenes ever! Also, how indestructible the heroes are! I don't have to ever have been in the military to know that Bruce Willis can't really fall so far and so hard and then just somersault away. I keep thinking during scenes like those that the person must have broken ribs, would truly die or be knocked out into a coma.
In my books, I deal with black magic in fight scenes, so my imagination is my limit. I also have a young man who knows how to sword fight. To describe the sword fight scenes, I am not obligated to say the type of sword or "brand"; I can just mention the steel glinting in the moonlight, chinking against another blade, coming down hard, deflecting, etc. It's a lot of fun