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Musings, Writing

Authors – If you want to write about weaponry, do it properly


Chuck Wendig has asked readers what turns them off, what spoils a book for them, what might cause them to actually not even finish it. For me, I get annoyed by authors that are writing weapons-based fiction, and who don’t have a clue about weapons.

1) People ARE NOT blown off their feet by shotguns, let alone pistols. That’s pure film. It’s also simple physics, i.e. if the person being hit by the weapon is blown off of their feet, then the shooter should also be blown back.

2) Clips and Magazines are completely different entities. A simple Google will explain why.

3) Assault rifles are assault rifles, don’t ever bloody refer to them as ‘machine guns’. It’s so sloppy it’s ridiculous.

4) You can’t get bolt-action assault rifles. If it’s bolt-action i.e. you have to work the bolt every time to eject the spent case/shell and load another round, it’s a bolt-action rifle. If it has selective fire and can fire semi-automatically, burst fire and fully automatically, and has detachable magazines (see 2)) then it’s an assault rifle. Simple.

5) Anything which says ‘he launched a flurry of blows’. Piss-poor laziness. Work out the fight in your head and describe it. I want to SEE the fight. Not imagine some bloke wafting his sword around until he gets lucky.

6) Don’t confuse a bullet with a round or a cartridge. They are different. A simple Google will explain why.

7) Covering missiles, rockets etc in flaming material will not cause them to explode in a matter of seconds. Again, that’s piss-poor Hollywood schlock. Work out a different way to remove the Mark 4 Behemoth Battle Armour (copyright Matthew Sylvester 2013 :))

I could go on, but these are just some of the pet-peeves that really spoil stories for me, especially if the authors thanks someone for their ‘military expertise’. Just in case you’re wondering ‘WTF do you know?’, I have been in the OTC Royal Engineers, a Special Constable, and a Door Supervisor. And I’m also a former cadet marksman.

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7. Matthew was Features Editor, Technical Consultant and regular columnist for magazines such as ‘Fighters’, ‘Combat’, ‘TKD & Korean Martial Arts’ and ‘Traditional Karate’. These are the four leading martial arts magazines in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots', which has been sold around the world. With regard to his martial arts background he has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 he hosted Professor Rick Clark of the ADK and since then has been studying pressure points and their uses in the martial arts and on the street (initially as a Special Constable and as a Door Supervisor). All of this practical hands-on experience means that he is uniquely placed to write fight scenes that are not only plausible but some of which are based on personal or anecdotal experience. Matthew has had a number of short stories published by Fringe Works, KnightWatch Press, Anderfam Press and Emby Press.

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