“It isn’t just guns, but any topic where the reader is an expert and the author is clueless. The problem is that when you write something that the reader knows is terribly wrong, it kicks them right out of the story and ruins the experience for them.”
Ab-so-fragging-lutely! 🙂 Well said.
“Some characters are going to think they are icky or scary (and that character should most likely die first if you’re writing an action novel)”
Hmmm . . . maybe not. Based on my LARP experience, nothing like R/L I know, but where else would you face yourself facing up to a rampaging xenomorph? Anyhow the ones who die are the gun bunnies who stand resolutely pumping out (simulated) 10mm caseless , explosive tipped, light armour-piercing rounds and get et, while those who don’t have guns, run and survive.
Just a thought.
And I will assure that any cries of “Help, help!” And “I want my Mummy!” are delivered in a thoroughly manly baritone. Honest.
Well, the mall ninjas maybe. I suspect people who have been shot at professionally (or been trained for it) know the value of cover and movement. But yeah, someone who learned to shoot by playing Halo will probably end up cannon fodder.
Larry’s remark about any topic where the author is clueless is spot on. I get as irate over a teenager hacking into the DoD with a dozen keystrokes as most gunnies would over the villain putting a “silencer” on a revolver.
Nagant; Old Soviet POS wheel gun, but it did have gas sealing chambers, thus a suppressor, AKA “silencer”, works.
You know that and I know that. But how many authors even know what a Nagant is?
I confess it wasn’t the best example. Even Hollywood has straightened up a little bit. I haven’t seen a revolver with a suppressor in a TV show since the 1970s.
Or the people who realize that one of the roles for a gun bunny or a soldier is to stay behind pumping out those rounds so the unarmed civilians can get away and possibly use their knowledge and abilities not involving guns to solve the problem.
Why you do something matters.
“I will make this sacrifice
For I am Winterborn.”
Note, that in the initial encounter with the xenomorph under the reactors, it was the gun bunnies that survived. Hicks had his old trusty pump gun, and Vasquez alone was smart enough to carry two spare modules for the heavy guns.
At least in general Hollywood gets the point end at bad guy pull trigger right. Anytime Hacking/Video Games appear in a movie/tv show I know it’s comedy gold time.
Spoilers hacking is 100% prep and research, anytime you see someone typing like mad during hacking instead of just running a script it’s not accurate.
The inevitable dancing game scene in the disney/nick tv shows was also very cringe worthy as it would have people enter a tournment for these games or show off and everyone would be impressed. Meanwhile on the game screen like the tutorial mode chart flew by and worst of all they normally wouldn’t even be hitting the buttons, not completely missing the timing or hitting them wrong…no I mean sometimes just not even hitting them. This would be like if for guns they were using a revolver it was firing full auto and using way more bullets then it can hold without them pulling the trigger and it’s not even aimed at what they are hitting.
Really it’s like what Larry said talk to people who are knowledgeable. Even if they arn’t completely accurate they will probably be accurate enough for people to wave it off.
Well I suppose in LARP we’re all Mall Ninjas. But then again it doesn’t have to work, but it does have to look cool. 🙂
“Two rounds to centre of mass . . . still coming . . . failure to stop drill . . . two rounds to the head . . . okay, where is the head on a Shoggoth?”
There was a cartoon about the RPG ‘Call of Cthulhu’ The more experienced the character was the faster they moved . . .
Sadly most authors can’t be experts at everything. But if you research the heck out of the main subject, chances are your expertise in that area will convince most readers to give you the benefit of the doubt elsewhere in the book.
And honestly, maybe I’m just weird, but research is fun. I do a metric crapton of it for the characters I rp, and learn all sorts of fascinating things along the way. (did you know the Cherokee had no written alphabet until Sequoyah created one in the early 19th Century? stuff like that). Do research and you win as well as your readers. It’s like the cherry on top of the verisimilitude sundae.
“[D]id you know the Cherokee had no written alphabet until Sequoyah created one in the early 19th Century?”
I do now, thanks to you!
Good interview, but I’m confused now. Do you mean to tell me that my 9mm won’t throw someone twenty feet? I don’t believe it. Come on, Hollywood wouldn’t lie to me :p.
There was a recent episode of The Transporter TV series that made me laugh doing this. Granted, it was a shotgun, not a 9mm pistol, but it was still really bad. Especially since not 3 minutes earlier the same good guy had shot other bad guys w/ the same shotgun, and they hadn’t gone flying like this.
Hmmm…. looks like WordPress was all smart & embedded the video automatically, but wasn’t smart enough to keep the time-offset code. The bit I was referencing is at about 40:13 in. If you open it in Youtube, you can just add #t=2413 to the end of the URL to get there.
Justified’s last season disappointed me by throwing a guy back with a shotgun blast. Usually the gun stuff in that show is pretty decent so that really broke the episode for me.
On a short-loved cop show some years back called High Incident, they had an episode based on the North Hollywood Shootout — two or three bank robbers with automatic weapons and body armor vs. LAPD uniforms. One of the cops went after one of the perps with a shotgun, closing on him and firing steadily. IIRC, the robber wasn’t flung backward, but kept being knocked off balance by the force of the shots (which seemed plausible enough to me). Cop knew he wasn’t going to put the guy down, he was just distracting him and buying time for the civilian the guy had been going after to escape. (Of course, eventually the cop ran out of ammo and had to bail himself, as an extremely pissed-off robber hosed down his general vicinity.)
Preaching to choir I know, but maybe some authors will follow back from the interview.
#1 pet peeve with guns and entertainment is clip versus magazine. #2 is hammer cocking on guns that don’t have hammers or are designed to be carried hammer back already. #3 is racking in a round to show your serious. If you were really serious, there would be a round in there already!
#3 also applies for cocking a gun to show you’re serious, especially when it happens multiple times without firing.
Speaking of stupid “dramatic effect” actions like that, it annoys me when shows/movies have a character take off their glasses to look at something more intently and/or give someone a serious look. It’s like they don’t know what glasses are for.
WORST example of #3 ever was a show called “Midnight Caller” where the main character, a late night call-in-show DJ, was caught in the middle of a bank robbery/hostage situation. Said robbery crew included the stock “Deranged Vietnam Vet” character, who was clearly off his meds (Juuuust the kind of guy you want on your crew) (This was before they all got victim status in Hollywood). And just to prove how CRAAAZY he was, he went around threatening the hostages at every plot twist by pumping his shotgun violently and pointing it at someone’s head. I figured the gun would have been empty about ten minutes into the heist, that is, if they gave him any shells that they didn’t make him keep in his pocket.
Clearly this bit was approved by a director who didn’t know squat about guns other than the fact that the pumping of a shotgun is a terrifying sound, and thus he had to use it again and again and again.
I feel inclined to add a warning about research: no, it will not protect you perfectly. Research a subject to death, and you will still get people telling you you got it wrong, because they got it wrong. The sort of people who really think that your character should shoot someone in the leg to stop him.
Or they are misapplying what they know. I still remember the writers’ group member who tried to lecture me about how feudalism worked in a wholly imaginary country, which had no laws except that which I made up.
Calling this person dense is an insult to gravity.
Ya know, I have often complained that the only thing they teach about WW2 in secondary school (and sometimes college) is the Japanese internment, the Holocaust, and the atomic bombings (n.b. message in two of those, America Bad). But even those lessons do not always get through, and some do not know that Bad America interned the Japanese!
Many people don’t know that Germans were also Interned during WWII. But they were white, so they can’t blame it on the US being racist.
Other worst gun offense on TV. Rapist/murderer saying to the woman who’s got the drop on him with her gun, “You won’t shoot me,” as he walks closer and closer, and she finally breaks down crying as he pulls it out of her hands.
One frigging Lifetime movie had the perp do this to a woman who was a COP!
Except this cliche happens over and over again, that somehow women are incapable of pulling the trigger when they need to, and can be easily disarmed by some unarmed cretin who just walks up and takes the gun out of her hands.
The ways Hollywood stuffs up with the military are many and infuriating, too, even to a lifelong civilian like me. Just off the top of my head, there was Stargate Universe with a 20-year-old Master Sergeant. And Kill Point, in which a squad of Marines not only didn’t object to being called soldiers, but actually referred to themselves that way.