Sunday, October 7, 2012

What Brings You To A Screeching Halt?

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Saw an old handgun advertisement on Bill Crider's excellent blog this morning. It started me thinking, as it often does. The reason will become clear in a bit.

The question is, when you're reading an otherwise good novel, hopefully lost in that world, what sort of things can eject you from that fantasy?

For me, it's firearms info. I do have some expertise in that area. I'm not an expert by any means, but I was fairly into guns for awhile in the past. I even spent a few years as a practicing and licensed Gunsmith. Some of the otherwise better authors out there can make the most basic errors concerning firearms. What are some of those?
     a. Revolvers don't eject shells, at least not automatically.
     b. Revolvers also can't be silenced very effectively.
     c. Handguns come in certain calibers, basically the diameter of the bullet. For the most part, those calibers are different from rifle calibers.
     d. Both revolvers and automatics are still pistols. 
     e. Pistols are not rifles, rifles are not shotguns, and vice versa. All are firearms, but they are not interchangeable. 

There are a lot more, but you get the idea. The most recent mistake I can think of was referring to an obvious shotgun as a 12 gauge rifle. Believe me, I was ejected from that high speed story forceably. It took a fair while to get back into it. Sometimes, I don't make the effort.

Now, I'm fairly certain that every book has the potential to piss off somebody about something. I guess the key is the readers exposure or expertise.

Are these things needlessly picky? You can decide. My personal feeling is that all books should have a truth, at some level they should educate. Sure, the story may be fiction, but when facts are stated they should indeed  be factual. You don't have to be an expert on everything, but if your plot turns on a set of facts, whether it's firearms, bullet trajectory, legalese, military terms, medicine our you name it, you as an author can always have some fact checking done by someone who IS an expert. Cultivate a few of those people, let them have a read of your opus in exchange for some acknowledgement.

The internet is always available for research. Writer's Digest has a wonderful series of books called the "HowDunit Series" each book focused on an aspect like Poisons, or Forensics.

The info is out there, use it! 

What yanks your emergency brake?

And, if you want some firearms expertise, I'm available! Cheers!

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