Guns Going Bang #atozchallenge


Although I’ve said this before, it was awhile ago now. Since there are new folks here for the A to Z challenge, I’d like to repeat myself. Besides, this is one that I feel very strongly about.

A lot of books involve guns. A lot of books, regardless of time period and genre — including some genres that might surprise you (like YA and romance — not romantic suspense. Romance). If a gun’s been invented, it’s possible that one will make an appearance in a manuscript that crosses my desk.

Now, we can talk about the gun culture and how including guns in our books so easily and with such frequency helps perpetuate it. Or we can argue that fiction is merely reflecting our reality. Guns are everywhere.

BUT we’re not going to.


What we’re going to talk about is how you, the author, are charged to write what you know. And that means that if you don’t know much about guns but want to include them in your book, you owe it to your credibility as an author, and you owe it to your reader to get yourself over to a range or a sportsman’s club and learn.

Now, not all ranges and clubs offer classes to non-members. I get that. But many do. (Mine offers a ladies’ pistol class every October, for instance. And they offer other classes, as well.)

(Yes, I just came out as belonging to a sportsman’s club. What of it?)

Writing responsibly about gun use means knowing what you’re writing about. Educate yourself. Take a class. Find a certified instructor and hit the range. (And, like you expect me to say anything less, WEAR YOUR EYE PROTECTION!)

Learn what it feels like to have a gun barrel kick into your palm. Into your shoulder, if you’re shooting a shotgun. Learn how to seat it properly in that shoulder; it’s not nearly as easy as it looks (she says… from experience). Learn what it feels like to flick the safety. To load. What a bullet feels like, what a hot casing feels like when it pops free and grazes your cheek (HELLO EYE PROTECTION). What it smells like, how heavy it is, what it’s like when you’ve been holding it for long periods. Do you find using the sight intuitive?

I can go on and on.

These are details your reader expects your character to know. That means, by extension, your reader expects you to know them.

If you’re going to write about guns, do it from a position of knowing how to use a gun, how to hold a gun, how to fire a gun, and all the rest. Know what guns cost. Know what ammunition costs!

Write what you know.

Which means that if you don’t know first-hand, go find out.

I bet you’ll learn more than simply how to write about a gun in your manuscript. In fact, I’d bet an entire edit on it. Because unless you grew up around guns or have a career that made gun safety a priority and something as natural as breathing, I know from experience. You WILL learn.

And your fiction will be better for it.

Just wear your damn eye protection so you can read about it once the book hits the market.*

*For you not in the know, no, I did not hurt my eye while at the sportsman’s club or while otherwise handling a firearm. But damn if I haven’t learned to go overboard on the eye protection issue.



  1. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    April 8, 2017 9:04 am

    One of my upcoming projects is going to involve an archer. My family and I took archery lessons for about a year through our park district. I think in this case, the inspiration to write about archery came after doing it.

    Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, Science Fiction/Fantasy Author

    • Susan Helene Gottfried

      April 10, 2017 9:50 am

      I hope they taught you good form! My son has been taking lessons for a number of years, and this is his second year in an Olympic Archery development program, and I’m sure you know: it’s all about the form.

  2. Wendy of the Rock

    April 10, 2017 9:56 pm

    Sounds as if you have handled a manuscript or two in which the author uses Clint Eastwood movies as research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *