|Akimbo Style gone crazy|
So I'd like to talk to you about guns. Yes. GUNS. If you are going to have a cool gunfight or two (or twenty) in your story, here are a bunch of things to keep in mind. Hopefully you won't make the common mistakes many writers commit when writing a gunfight.
1) The duel wield (akimbo style). You've seen this in The Matrix, Tomb Raider, Young Guns, and a ton of other cool movies where a character is holding two guns at the same time and using them simultaneously. Great for cinema (or comic books), but if you're writing an action novel and want some realism, don't include the duel wield. Even in the Wild West, cowboys might hold two guns, but only shoot with their dominant hand and then switch guns after they've run out of bullets. Modern soldiers might use two guns at the same time, but not to kill anybody. They'll use it as suppression fire only. In real life, duel wielding is not very accurate.
2) Cartridge or bullet. I've seen this mistake in a couple spy novels, actually. A cartridge is not the same as a bullet. The cartridge (or round) includes the bullet, gunpowder, and primer all in one nice package. The bullet is what actually shoots out of the gun. When you see someone firing a machine gun, for example, what you see raining down are the spent cartridges. In a revolver, the shooter must empty the cylinder of the spent cartridges before reloading. Oh, and three is a difference between a clip and a magazine too. A clip is that piece of metal that holds bullets together, so you can put them into a magazine, which is the box that holds the clip (connected bullets)
3) Silencers. Oh man, where to begin! I blame all the James Bond movies for this one. Look, silencers don't really make guns silent. At all. That high pitched puffft you hear in the movies is nowhere near reality. If you have a character in your book using a silencer, the shots will not be silent at all. A silencer will get the gunshot down to about 120 decibels. That's louder than sandblasting or a power saw.
|I will point my useless gun at you!|
5) Run for cover. Car doors make very poor shields if faced with machine gun fire. But every cop movie I've ever seen exemplifies this myth. Oh, and regular plaster walls are not exactly great cover as well. Bullets ricochet, bounce, and skip all over the place!
|Yo, you ain't gonna hit shit|
7) Empty! if your character is using an auto/semi-automatic weapon, it will be evident when the gun is out of bullets. So don't have them be surprised when they go to kill their enemy, and oops, out of bullets. The slide on the gun's action locks all the way back and the gun "opens" up for all to see that it's completely empty!
8) Safety first. Revolvers don't have safeties. Not many semiautomatics do either.
9) Cordite. I've read many spy novels where the author describes the "cordite stench" or "cordite fog" after a gun battle. Well, cordite was used in guns back in the 19th century, and only for the briefest of periods. On an episode of CSI, a tech talked about the smell of cordite after a gun battle. Um, no. Probably not (unless the use of an antique gun is part of the plot).
10) Peter Pan. If someone gets hit with a bullet, they won't be violently hurled backwards into the air as if struck by a SAM missile. Once again, cinematic mythology. Even MythBusters shows that a 50mm bullet can't do it!
11) Bullet proof vests are not totally bullet proof. Nor will you be thrown backwards if you're wearing one and struck by a bullet. If you're hit from close range by AK-47s (i.e. Back to the Future), you will end shredded wheat even if wearing Kevlar.
|Crocket kills the Big Wheel|
13) Stance #2. 21 Jump Street and Miami Vice might say otherwise, but experienced pistoleers don't point their guns down at the ground with straight arms either, unless they want to kill ants or shoot off their own feet.
14) Kaboom! Shooting a fuel tank or any kind of pressured tank (with fuel, propane, oxygen, etc.) will NOT make it explode. Jaws, The Matrix, James Bond, The Bourne Identity - they're all wrong. It would take some sort of big spark, or better yet, fire to make that happen. Mythbusters busted this myth as well!