“Firearms for Formulators of Fiction” – and I’m Guilty of 2 errors!

The blog of mystery writer R. Doug Wicker offers some tips to writers describing characters use of handguns. I find that, as a novelist often writing about characters using guns, I’ve been guilty, in my time, of making two of the three basic mistakes he lists below:

First, don’t have your character carry a revolver with the hammer cocked. It’s dangerous, dumb, and may very well result in your character accidentally blowing a hole in his foot or, worse, some other part of his body. If your male character carries his “cocked” revolver tucked into the front of his pants, you’d better be doing a story involving sex change, because if that hammer trips, the gun won’t be the only thing that is suddenly decocked, if you catch my drift.

Second, don’t have your character disengaging the “safety” on the revolver after drawing it, or engaging the “safety” prior to holstering it. This gives readers in the know one of those rolling-of-the-eyes moments that every author should strive to avoid. Yes, there are revolvers that were made with safeties (some Webley revolvers come to mind), but again, these are the exception.

And, finally, do not have your character put a suppressor (silencer for the uninformed—suppressors don’t “silence” anything; they merely suppress the noise but do not eliminate it) on his revolver. The barrel is not where most of the sound comes from on a revolver; it comes from the gap between the cylinder and the frame/barrel. As such, a suppressor just won’t do much more than look stupid. How many times have you seen Hollywood make this mistake? And it’s really aggravating when they do. Again, there are exceptions, but revolvers designed to take suppressors are a very rare and specialized breed.

I’ve had one character, once, screwing on a suppressor. That particularly writerly sin was committed many years ago. More than once I’ve had characters flicking safeties off on pistols. I’m a bit shocked to hear that most pistols don’t have safeties. I didn’t know that. I do think they should all have safeties. But, unlike the guy who sent me this link, I’m not in the NRA.

I do know the odds between single and double action pistols, yes…and why double action can sometimes be problematic in terms of aiming. I’ve noticed it at the range.

Anyway if you’re a writer with gunplay in his or her book I recommend Mr Wicker’s useful blog posting…Just follow the link.

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