Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Write What You Know

Romance writers who write about guns should either a) know what they are talking about or b) ask someone knowledgeable to vet their writing. Otherwise knowledgeable readers will be treated to such silliness as this (From “Cry of the Wolf” by Karen Whiddon, Silhouette Nocturne, January 2007):

[Heroine talking to hero about buying a gun] “I’d like you to help me choose the right one, if you don’t mind. I’d like a pistol, a revolver, I think.”

OK, so far so good. Technically a pistol is different from a revolver, but common usage by people unfamiliar with guns -- as the heroine is -- doesn't always distinguish the two.

One hand on the wheel, he guided the boat with a quiet confidence. His gaze was cool and clear and gave none of his thoughts away. “Why not an automatic? They’re much easier to use.”

To answer the hero’s question...well, for one thing, it’s illegal for most people to own fully automatic weapons -- even in Texas (where this story takes place). I think what the hero means is a semi-automatic pistol. And pistols are not necessarily easier to use than revolvers; you just get more shots before you have to reload.

She gave him the only explanation she could—the truth. “Because silver bullets don’t come in cartridges.”

WTF? Assuming the heroine is using the term cartridge correctly (meaning the assembly of the bullet, powder, primer, and casing), what does that have to do with whether she wants a pistol or a revolver? In either case, you would still need to put the bullet (meaning only the silver or lead projectile) into a casing along with powder and a primer in order to use it. Now I might buy this as the heroine being clueless, but the hero doesn’t correct her.

Later on, the hero -- after buying the heroine a .45 caliber revolver (for a beginner who is just learning to shoot?? I have a good grip and can shoot pretty well, and I still choose to shoot a 9 mm not a .45) -- says the following to the heroine:

“Now squeeze the trigger and be ready. There’s a bit of a backlash when it fires.”

No kidding. And it’s called “kick”, not “backlash”.

Silliness like this pulls me right out of the story...and off to write blog posts like this one.


indigo said...

OMG this is too funny and illustrates why it is soooooooo important for us writers to do our research. I suppose the writer got away with it because whoever edited their book didn't know much about guns either.

Julie Doe said...

It wouldn't have taken much at all to have this checked. The gun talk is only in a few scenes. *sigh*

This book is the next to get snarked on my other site. I'm feeling testy today (long day at work), and I'm going to work on the review tonight. We'll see how it turns out.

Ms. Karen said...

Backlash? BACKLASH? y-eah, right. Stuff like that will cause a book I'm reading to become airborne, right up to the point where it connects with the far wall.

If I'm not sure, I dig until I know. It might slow things down, but at least I don't come across as a TOTAL idiot.

Ms. Karen said...

I suppose I could have finished that last statement...

It was supposed to say, "It might slow down the writing process, but at least I don't come across as a total idiot."

Unless I'm posting a comment and I'm tired.

Dang it. Where's my sign?