Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
You do your best to make the heroes of your tall tales as cool as possible. They’re the best at everything they do. They can out-shoot, out-fight, and out-think every character who dares to enter a paragraph. Your superstars can drive a car better than Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. combined, and they’re far better lovers that those shirtless, fake-tan guys on the romance covers. Hell, even James Bond should take “suave and debonair” lessons from your protagonists.
So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, come closer. I think it’s best that I whisper so only you can hear. Don’t want to embarrass your hero, you know.
Okay, here goes, and this is between you and me. The trouble is…is…well, it’s the size of their guns and the way they carry them……..I know, shocking, isn’t it? But I think I can help, and these simple pointers should do the trick.
1. Stop having your good guy shove his handgun into his waistband at the small of his back. It’s not safe, nor is it a handy place for retrieval of the weapon. To better illustrate, please allow me to tell a brief story to help clarify my point.
It was around 3 a.m. and I and another officer were working an undercover narcotics operation. We’d made a substantial buy from a house in a very dangerous part of town and were sitting in my undercover car preparing to leave the area, when we heard a call come across the radio. “Shots fired. One man down, believed to be deceased. Shooter is running east in the alley between Dumb and Dumber streets.”
My partner and I immediately looked at each other. We were sitting at the eastern end of the alley. A second later the shooter zipped past the front of my car.
My partner jumped out to chase the asswipe while I called in our position and to say we were in foot pursuit (so much for the undercover role).
It’s tough to run while wearing a gun strapped to your ankle, but you get used to it…sort of. Anyway, I started running at full speed in the direction I last saw my partner. It was pitch-black dark. No moon. No streetlights.
After what seemed like ten minutes and a total shutdown of my lungs and heart, I heard a commotion. I’d heard the sound before and knew it to be that of humans crossing a chain-link fence. After chasing a dozen or so thugs through backyards and around snarling dogs, those type of sounds become very familiar to you. Anyway, I knew I was gaining on my partner and the bad guy.
All of a sudden I heard a very loud BANG! It was a gunshot.
Next came a couple of moans and a, “Don’t move you &%^$#$^ing &%$%##$&!!!” My partner, bless his heart, had a very firm grasp on a very colorful set of language skills and vocabulary.
I reached the fence and climbed over where I found my partner lying on the ground moaning and groaning, with a very large murderer kneeling beside him. The killer was firmly pressing a handkerchief against my partner’s right buttock.
I, totally unsure of what the hell I was seeing, pointed my gun at the bad guy and told him to get down on the ground and keep his hands where I could see them. I was certain he’d shot my partner and was trying to get his gun. However…the handkerchief?
Turns out my partner had shoved his big fat Beretta 92F into his waistband, at the small of his back, just as he started chasing the shooter. And, when he climbed over the fence the gun slipped down inside the seat of his pants and had somehow discharged. In other words, my partner shot himself in the butt.
The murderer heard the shot and thought my partner had fired a round at him, so he stopped in his tracks. However, when the bad guy realized what had happened he turned around, walked over to his pursuer, and began emergency first aid. Go figure.
So you see, the small of the back, without a proper holster, is a very bad place to carry a concealed weapon. Do your hero a big favor and write in a specially designed holster made for that area.
Two additional gun-carry no-no’s are:
1. The pants pocket. It’s far too easy for the hammer to catch on pocket material, preventing a quick draw. There’s nothing more embarrassing, or dangerous, than having to repeatedly pull and tug on your gun when you most need it. To make matters worse, the pocket material will more than likely rip and tear and come out attached to the barrel. And that, my friends, definitely makes your hero look pretty silly.
2. A woman’s pocketbook. Who knows how much stuff she’d have to paw through to even find her too big and too clunky gun, much less get a grip on it and draw. Besides, you know when the protagonist finally does manage to draw the weapon it’ll be coated with lint, two old lifesavers, two or three dry-cleaning receipts, and one of those things only carried by women. It’s not a pretty sight.
There are many purses and holsters specifically designed for concealed carry. Please buy one for the hero in your stories. They’ll be glad you did.
I ran into Biff Steele a few days ago and within a matter of seconds I knew I’d caught him at a weak moment. He’d barely spoken two sentences when his emotions came spilling out. Right there on the sidewalk in front of the Piggly Wiggly.
Biff is typically a tough-as-nails protagonist. He rolls with the punches and quite often delivers a few hay-makers of his own. But on this day, Biff was pretty down in the dumps. He was feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut. Feeling blu… Well, you get the idea.
I asked him why he was sporting such a long face. His response was stunning.
He said he’d had about all he could take from his writer. She’d stopped doing any real research and had turned to the internet for every scrap of information. Then he paused a second before delivering the really big bombshell. He said he was thinking about leaving, maybe even killing himself off in the final pages of the next book.
I couldn’t believe it. Not Biff Steele! I asked what, if anything, could be done to make things right again. He told me everything, and then he drove straight home to confront his writer. This is what he said to her.
1. Quit having me smell the odor of cordite at crime scenes. For goodness sake, I’m not that old. Actually, even my parents hadn’t been born when they stopped making that stuff.
2. I love tense moments in stories as much as the next character, but having me kidnapped in every other book? Come on, you know me better than that. Haven’t I saved the world many, many times? After all, I’m not Kate Beckett, you know.
3. Don’t you remember the discussion we had the last time you had me draw a chalk outline around a dead body? Oh, it’s coming back to you now… That’s right, they don’t do that anymore! Yep, doing so could destroy or alter evidence. Geez…pay attention.
4. For the last time, the FBI does not have the authority to take over my murder cases, my office, or my entire department. Stop sending them into my scenes!
5. Speaking of the FBI… NO, they don’t investigate all kidnapping incidents. So please let me solve my own cases. Your friends stopped writing that garbage years ago, and their heroes are looking pretty sharp because of it.
6. So you insist upon writing me as a stupid, bumbling, idiotic clown who can barely find my way home at night, huh? Well, you’re showing a lack of knowledge there, Sunshine. You are aware that I had to pass a ton of tests and show an outstanding ability to solve crimes in order to land the promotion to detective, right? It’s not a job for dummies. Tell me, what are your qualifications that make you an expert on my career?
7. Let’s do this one more time. My sidearm is a Glock semi-automatic. It does NOT have any type of safety that I can “thumb-off.” No Way. No How.
8. Remember book three, back when I carried the Chief’s Special? Think hard. Yes, that’s the one. Now think about the scene on page 87 where you MADE me say, “The sunlight reflected hotly from the brass casings as they automatically ejected from my revolver?” Remember that? Well, to this day I’ve never lived it down. Reacher and Bosch and the other guys bring it up all the time, and it’s embarrassing. Why, just the other day I overheard sweet little Kinsey Millhone cracking a joke about it. For the last time, revolvers do NOT automatically eject spent cartridges. I have to push them out manually, using the extractor rod.
9. While we’re on the subject of Kinsey, why can’t I have a steady girlfriend? You know, someone nice, like her? I’m pretty tired of living alone and drinking by myself in dark, dreary bars. I want to have some fun for a change. What don’t you ever let me go dancing, or to a movie? Anywhere where I don’t end up fighting or blasting someone’s brains all over the ceiling. That’s no way to live.
10. You never take me anywhere. I’m tired of living on dusty bookshelves. So I have an idea. I heard there are still a few spots available at the 2015 Writers’ Police Academy. Why don’t you do us, and your readers, a favor and sign up today while there’s still time. Then you’ll see first-hand all the things you’ve been writing WRONG all these years.
Yes, they’ll let you shoot, drive, handcuff, investigate, participate in a police pursuit, interrogate and, well, have a ton of fun while learning how this stuff really works. Yes, it’s totally a hands-on event. Yep, lots of bangs, booms, and excitement. All the other writers will be there.
Yes, Reacher has been to the WPA. So has Bosch, D.D. Warren, Dance, Rhyme, Jordan, Brennan, and, well, the whole gang has been. It’s where all the cool kids go to learn how to “get it right.”
So we’re going, too, right?