Thursday, July 31, 2008

Research for your book?

You're in the middle of writing a story and you realize your character has to shoot a pistol, but you've never shot one. You don't own a gun.

You have to describe the weapon, the weight and feel of it, the recoil, how to site with it, etc. What do you do? do research. In my case, I didn't just search the internet or look up information at the library/bookstore, I did the hands-on approach. I have a friend that owns several weapons and he showed me them and let me try a few out. We went to his house where he owns 10 acres of land, he set up a paper target, then he told me to pick a gun and try it.

After almost falling on my butt, and he got a good laugh, my friend then showed me all the proper ways to hold a pistol, load it, aim it, and then pull the trigger. Through the course of this "research" I tried various weapons he had at his disposal.

To top off the at home research we went to a gun shop. The owner was very friendly and informative. He was very willing to answer any questions about all the guns in his shop, like what situation would you use one versus another, what do average police shoot, military, etc. He also was helpful in explaining the local gun laws. To my surprise, the gun shop owner offered to let me try a gun. He took me out in the back of the shop, handed me a Walther PPK, and had me aim for his big sand pile. Wow! What a racket. Then, the owner added a silencer to the weapon and I shot it again. Not quite silent, but it wasn't deafening.

I took my research further and went to an actual firing range. A great experience. You walk in and have to show ID, select a weapon (unless you have your own), buy the bullets, and the number of targets you want to shoot at. You take all that and hearing protection into another room where you do the actual target shooting. This would be the firing range. It kinda reminds me of a driving ranges where each person has their own slot of space.

Anyway, I did took the lessons learned from my friend and the gun shop owner and applied them as I shot 50 rounds into several paper targets.

Although the internet makes doing research easy, the best research is going that extra step and checking things out for yourself. And when you write your various scenes, like I did in IT HAPPENS IN THREES, the reader will feel like they're right there because they're experiencing what you did through your words.

What research have you had to do?


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