Writing about Guns in Fiction

START WITH HAND SIZE (for Matching Handguns to Characters)
Guest Post by Ben Sobieck

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Image by Andy Warhol (1981-2982)

My father in-law bought a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistol the other day. It’s a nice handgun for sure. It fits comfortably into his holster. The lightweight design makes it a breeze to wear. The caliber is exactly the one he wanted. Even better, he bought it at a terrific price. So why does he hate it?

As it turns out, my father in-law didn’t shoot the pistol before putting down the dough. He pulled the trigger for the first time at our recent trip to the gun range. Thing is, his hands are too large for the grip. This made it difficult to shoot, and his accuracy suffered as a result. (Although, hey, I’m no dead-eye myself.)

What does this have to do with writing fiction? It highlights an important point about matching handguns to characters. Some writers get caught up in gender, caliber, availability, gun type or looks when selecting a handgun for a character. While those are important factors, I wouldn’t recommend starting with those things.

Instead, start with hand size. How small or large are the character’s hands? Smaller hands should go with smaller handguns. Larger hands would go with larger handguns.

By “small” and “large,” I mean the physical dimensions, not the caliber. There are small handguns that fire large calibers, and vice versa.

Most handgun manufacturers seem to agree with this approach. They break product lines down by size first, then address the other features. Smith & Wesson, for example, offers small, medium, large and extra large lines of revolvers (called J, K, N and X). Each of those sizes (called “frames,” as in “J-frame” or “K-frame”) comes in small and large calibers.

With the hand size identified, start picking out similarly-sized handguns suited for those other important factors, such as caliber.

There’s plenty to consider. That’s why I developed a step-by-step process to making the right match in my book, “The Weapons for Writers: A Practical Reference for Writing Firearms and Knives in Fiction.” It’ll hit shelves in late 2014 from Writer’s Digest. Pre-orders are available at Amazon now if you feel like saving a buck ahead of time. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Weapons-Writers-Practical-Reference/dp/1599638150)

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BENJAMIN SOBIECK is the author of “The Weapons for Writers” (Writer’s Digest, late 2014), the Maynard Soloman detective series and numerous short stories graffitied throughout the Internet and crime anthologies. His website is CrimeFictionBook.com.

Benjamin Sobieck Online: WebsiteAmazon | TwitterGoodreads | Interview

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