Tag Archives: Guns

Guest Post: Guns in Fiction With Larry Correia, by Ryan Lanz

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Thank you to Ryan Lanz and to A Writer’s Path for this excellent article about accurately writing firearms into your fiction.

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Today, I’m pleased to introduce New York Times bestseller Larry Correia as a guest. Although he has a busy schedule, he accepted the invitation to share with us some of his knowledge on firearms in fiction.

Larry also has an interesting background in publishing. He started out as a successful, self-published author, and a few years later, he accepted a publishing offer from Baen Books. He is an author who knows how to be successful in both arenas of publishing.

Along with having been on the NYT bestseller list, Larry has also been on the Entertainment Weekly bestseller list, was a finalist in the John W. Campbell award, and was nominated for a Hugo award for best novel in 2014. He has been a full-time writer for several years.

His books are noted by many publications for his detailed accuracy of firearms usage, which makes sense considering that he has experience as a firearms instructor.

No matter what your views on guns are, you’re likely to eventually come across the subject in your writing, so I thought it would be prudent to bring on a guest to discuss how best to go about it.

I’m sure you’ve all seen wild west movies where someone gets shot and then flies backwards several feet. Or in modern movies someone shoots the bottom of a car, then it explodes easily on the first shot. With the dramatics that Hollywood adds to gun use, it’s not surprising that it eventually affects how authors write about them.

Interview:

Ryan: What are the common pitfalls in fiction where it’s clear that the author has never held or fired a modern firearm?

Larry: 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. Guns are especially hard because they are super common in fiction, and there are tons of readers who know about them.

Most of these really glaring errors can be taken care of with a little bit of cursory research. Technical things can be taken care of by a few minutes on the manufacturer’s webpage, which will keep your characters from dramatically flipping off the safety on a gun that doesn’t have one.

Beyond that, however, is the actual use of the gun. The character using it should have a realistic amount of knowledge based on their skill, knowledge, ability, and training. If you are gong to be writing about a character who is a professional gunslinger, then you need to do some research to make sure that person does what a professional gunslinger would do.

Ryan: If an author does not have access to a firearm or gun range, what are the best methods to brush up on them?

Larry: Actually shooting is best, but if you can’t, find friends who know guns and pick their brains. The problem here is like I mentioned, realistic amounts of knowledge for a particular character and your friends are going to vary just as much in real life. Just because somebody on the internet told you something doesn’t make it true.

Most online firearms forums are pretty cool about authors coming on and asking questions. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

Be careful because there are a lot of urban legends out there about guns.  5.56 doesn’t tumble through the air. A near miss of a .50 BMG won’t tear your limbs off. That is nonsense. So, the best thing to do is ask a group of people, and in short order you should be able to tell who actually has a clue and then disregard the crazy.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Woodstock

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Woodstock

My husband, Greg, is a lifelong enthusiast of the sport of shooting, including reloading ammunition, plinking, target shooting, and skeet shooting. He collects books about guns, and he pores over the illustrations, admiring the craftsmanship and aesthetics. He improved a few of the guns in his own collection, rebrowning or rebluing the barrels as appropriate, and refinishing the stocks.

His appreciation for workmanship led him to try his hand at building derringers (nineteenth century pistols like the one used notoriously by John Wilkes Booth) from kits. This involved taking a rough-cut wooden stock and shaping it to fit comfortably in the hand, carefully inletting it to accommodate the mechanical workings of the gun, and staining and finishing his product. It was largely a process of trial and error, with some unsatisfactory results, and other more successful ones, some of the better pieces found new homes as gifts to friends and admirers.

Greg also built several flintlock and percussion rifles, and three cannons.

Then he built a blunderbuss, a muzzle-loader with a flared barrel (like the Pilgrims might have used), and decided to do something more with it—carve the stock, like some of the historical examples he saw in his books. So far he’s made four, each with a unique design. (Click on the images for a larger view.)

Greg bought himself a Ruger® 10/22® rifle and the plain stock suddenly looked like an empty canvas to him. Yielding to his artistic impulses, he removed the factory finish, and carved patterns into the stock. He’s since carved six more with various designs, including a dachshund who looks suspiciously like Rudi, who lives at our house.

When he starts working on a stock, he spends time visualizing what it could become, sometimes choosing a theme. For example, one of his blunderbusses has a boat on one side and a bluefish on the other, a reference to his youth on the New Jersey shore, when he spent many days fishing with his father. “I’m taking a common thing and making it into something special,” he says. His main carving tool is a simple X-ACTO® knife. He buys ten packages of blades at a time. He also uses a Dremel® tool, an engraver, a woodburner, various sanding tools, and tiny paintbrushes capable of depositing stain in the skinniest of indentations. He keeps Bandaids® handy for the occasional carving accidents.

Greg often starts by marking the boundaries of his design area in pencil, then carving the borders. He’ll sketch out his motif on paper first, then transfer it to the wood in pencil. First he’ll carve roughly, then go back and refine, rounding some edges, beveling others, gouging some backgrounds, and stippling other areas, producing a variety of textures. After staining, he applies multiple coats of oil to finish the stock.

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Retired after thirty-plus years of teaching in elementary school, Greg feels fortunate to have the time and means to immerse himself in wood stock carving.

What creative interests do you have that you are pursuing now, or hope to, once you retire?