Everyone has their pet peeves in writing or reading. One of mine is reading an excellent story only to be yanked out of it because there’s line about weaponry (usually a gun) that is just SO wrong.
I’m a believer that if you write about guns, you should probably touch one at least once in your life. I’m not saying you need to own one or not, or have your Concealed Weapons Permit. I’m saying if you’re going to write about them – the weight and feel of a gun, the smell, and the recoil – you need to know what your talking about. Visit a gun range, if only once to talk to the friendly folks who work there and soak up the sights, sounds, and smells.
A few beginner tips for your characters when gun slinging:
Don’t have a character firing a revolver with spent shells spilling out everywhere as he/she unloads on a baddy about two dozen times. No revolver does that. That’s why Deputy Rick Grimes has to up end his Colt Python .357 and dump the shells, after killing six zombies, before he reloads to kill six more.
On that same note, if your hero/heroine has a Glock or a Browning .380 or some super sci-fi awesome futuristic semi-automatic, you could mention the shells all over the ground from their shoot out.
If your heroine is shooting the equivalent of a .357 Dirty Harry Magnum with .357 bullets, make sure she feels the recoil (unless she’s got preternatural strength). Because trust me, that puppy packs a wallop and will recoil over your head. Two words: Hand. Canon.
If your hero has a big a$$ machine gun type weapon, he will not be able to walk around with the dang thing a la Rambo – again, unless he’s a super hero. It’s a movie lie. A machine gun comes with a stand for a reason and you need your full body weight pressed against the butt with your foot leveraged against, oh I don’t know, the back of a fox hole, to keep it from bouncing you back into next week. Even Sly would need to lay down with that thing to really use it.
Some writers have no desire to learn all of this first hand and that’s okay. Guns are scary and very dangerous. If hands-on isn’t your thing, you can learn all you need to know by talking to a guns expert. You need never touch one if you don’t want. Go to your local gun range and ask the people there. If you tell them you’re writing about a smokin’ hot spy who packs a Walther PPK and you want to get the details right, I promise they will tell you all you need to know and then some. You’ll be lucky to get out of there without half a day’s lesson on firearms and safety. They want you to get it right.
If that doesn’t appeal to you either, check out internet blogs from retired policeman or military. They’re a well of information and there’s normally a contact email addy for specific questions. My favorite is Lee Lofland’s Graveyard Shift Blog. He’s awesome, one of the founders of the Writer’s Police Academy, and a huge SouthLAnd fan (Woo Hoo!!!). Check him out: http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/
Whatever you do, for the love of all that’s metallic and loud, do your homework.
Finally, even if you’re writing about weapons if the year 2520 or a galaxy far, far away, I suggest grounding the weapons in some reality. Your laser gun should still have some punch. I imagine a really powerful laser might require both hands to steady the weapon. Or maybe not…I don’t know so much about the year 2520. =) Maybe it fires smooth as silk but smells funny afterward? What does it sound like when you fire? What does the handler feel?
Details like this will draw your readers into the scene. Then, no matter how far, far away you take them, they’ll be “in” the story and follow you anywhere.