Shots Magazine Piece
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Reader Comments (6)
I've never actually touched a modern gun, and don't think I would want to. (That is if you disclude a paintball one! Which was enormous fun to shoot my friends with, even if I was on their team.) The only thing close to a real gun that I've fired is a musket and it scared the jeebers out of me (and left me deaf for a minute or two).
Real guns absolutely terrify me with their ability to deal cold, instant judgement on someone. Maybe that is why I love all the action in books and films? A fascination with something I'll never fully understand or be comfortable with?
I never even thought about differences in culture when it comes to such things (That's bad for a would-be scribbler isn't it?).
I do remember freaking out a little at the airport in Rome when I walked past all the armed police. Did it again when armed police started popping up all over London after 9/11. I used to take the long way round to avoid the streets they were on. (These boys are meant to make us feel safe right?)
The oddest thing was when they were all out after the tube bombings, somehow their presence bothered me less.
Do you think the difference really is just all about what we are accustomed to?
One thing I have noticed. You speak of American authors getting the details right and English authors less so (quite probably true). Did you ever notice that a number of authors just put a little too much detail in there? Almost like its there just to convince you that they know what they are talking about.
I'm certainly not putting down the effort of getting the details right, most of my writing is set in the renaissance period (because it's the sexiest and grimmest), so I'm aware of how the details can make the story. I spend half my time online checking and double checking. Where you could probably tell me all about the history of the M16 I could tell you the evolution of the bodice or the doublet.
But I do find sometimes that stuff is overdone.
Maybe I'm just yabbering. I guess I'm only looking at it from my view and forgetting that people expect some very different things from the same book.
Hey I know stuff about Flintlocks, does that count?
There's unquestionably such a thing as too much research. Problem 1) "Research" is a synonym for "not writing". Problem 2) As you note, sometimes too much technical detail is cumbersome, not necessary, annoying, and - more to the point - pulls you out of the story, like a 555 phone number, or a fake cigarette. I find this particularly true in the case of authors telling me an enormous amount about something I know they wouldn't naturally know the first thing about. It becomes like a school report.
It's actually been suggested, from various writerly corners that I forget right now, that one shouldn't even do so much research as to get things right - merely to make them convincing (to a lay audience).
Actually I find the research as much, if not more fun than the writing a lot of the time. My current 'thing' is set in the backdrop of the fire of london (kind of a romeo & juliet slapped in that setting).
Reading all the accounts (where you can find them) is an eye opener. Especially discovering things like the plague being stopped in its tracks by the fire - or at least so people have suggested.
Half of the time I find it difficult not to do too much research and find myself doing very little of the writing (apart from piles of notes). It's often a little disapointing when I have to skip using a whole chunk of really nice stuff that I found so that I don't end up with a book that dwarfs war and peace.
Sounds suspiciously to me like your dark days and times are nearing an end. Put away the dark sunglasses MF, I think you're nearing the 'welcome back to non-depression days'. Hope all is well for you. Passed on your books to friends and family who all loved them. I had to fight one friend to give me my signed copy back. I'm proud to be the first Colonial to have that book and will damn well fight to protect it. Though being in Canada, I won't use a gun ;)
Depression is horrible. I went through a period of it for about a year after my flat was robbed (scariest time of my life - trust me, if you are going to be robbed, try not to be there when it happens).
It's hard to get out of. But being on the other side of it now I can say that it taught me some lessons about how frail we are and how easy it is to just wallow.
I found that the best way to deal with it was to just step out in the sun and look for the things that make you smile (The Happy Stuff). Remove yourself from the spot where you feel down. Go stand or sit somewhere else where there is something else to think about. Do lunch somewhere different. Walk a different way home. Pick somewhere you haven't been and just go see what it's like. Well, that's what I found worked for me anyway. Hope it's the same for you.
(I also found I now drink Martini because I found I liked it on one of my 'try something different' quests. But maybe you should avoid doing that one, wouldn't increase your 'hot or not' score.)
Maybe between the two of you, you can get me sorted. Believe me, I'm all ears. xm
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