1. Patrick94
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    Patrick94 Active Member

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    Building up tension/ generic gun?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Patrick94, Apr 7, 2012.

    Hi guys,

    I'm writing a short story atm and there's going to be a scene where the antagonist has the protagonist cornered with a gun. I've come across a few scenes like this in novels (most notably The Last Ten Seconds) and I was wondering how would I build up the tension?

    Also, what would generic (hand?)guns be like in the twenty first century? I was thinking of having the mc describe the gun to build up the tension.

    Any help is greatly appreciated :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To maintain the tension, keep the scene changing. The gunman is growing increasingly irrational, for example, possibly due to drugs or insanity. Or someone nearby has a medical emergency, possibly precipitated by the stress of the situation. Or a bystander is working up the nerve to do something stupid.

    Description won't build tension. Description distances the reader from the action, and typically reduces tension. If the gun's effects have been previously established and are devastating, that can amp up the initial tension, but it won't augment it within the scene.
     
  3. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Not that different. There have been a string of innovative failures.

    For example, there have been attempts at 'safe guns.' That is, they don't fire unless the owner graps the grip. The idea was to arm police officers with firearms of this nature in case their weapons were snatched. In something like 20% of the examples, the gun wouldn't even fire for the cop that owned it.

    There was a gun called a "Gyro Jet." The bullet was actually a little rocket. It even appeared in a James Bond movie. I think the idea lasted a year, the ammunition was expensive.

    If there are any major changes it would be in refining existing designs.

    For example, manufacturers might cease using lead in constructing bullets. Some target ranges use a bullet completely enveloped in nylon or kevlar to hold down toxic fumes. Or they use sintered bullets, or shotgun loads using steel or other alloys, like bismuth. Serious ammunition might 'lathe turned,' like some premiun Barnes bullets for heavy game. There are even plastic bullets being tried in 'rail guns.'

    I think the idea that will surface is the concept of caseless ammunition. That is, the entire cartridge's case burns upon firing. It's just there to hold the gunpowder, and if it is consumed it might aid in ignition or be one less thing used to track a soldier--or his identity. (Some soldiers are issued 'clean' equipment like nondescript knives, French made dive tanks or civilian boots.)

    Caseless ammunition provides other features. It's lighter to carry, or the soldier can carry more rounds for the same weight. It's waterproof. There was a rifle actually pitched to the military where the case was square, and the chamber fed by a rotarty bolt. The cyclic rate was incredible.

    More to the point, caseless ammunition already exists, just not in common consumption. You can google it for any fact you need.
     
  4. Patrick94
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    Patrick94 Active Member

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    I understand what you're getting at here, and I agree with what you say fully, but for example if I described how the gunman was feeling, how he was moving, how he looked, would that help or hinder tension?

    @The Tourist I don't know much about guns, however the caseless ammunition seems a good idea - too good in fact. Why wasn't it always caseless?
     
  5. Show
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    I don't think there's any one way to build up the tension. Go with what feels best for the story. So many different scenarios can work that without any context to your story, you can get 1000 answers that could probably all work.

    Maybe the gunman is nuts, or maybe he's too calm. Maybe it's the protagonist that is losing it or maybe he is scarily calm. Sometimes you can be really low-key in building tension. So many different options. Maybe you should just write it out and see if it works. If it doesn't, rework it until it does.
     
  6. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    There has been a "caseless" idea since the idea of a 'cartridge' was invented. Some cartridges were actually hollowed out lead bullets filled with gunpowder and sealed with a primer or fulminate of mercury. I believe they were manufactured under the name "Volcanic."

    A muzzle loading rifle is caseless. The breech is the 'case.'

    The simple problem was how do you use an open breech, and then seal it upon ignition. Brass is malleable, it expands to seal, and it can be reloaded. In fact, modern reloading dies are similar to those from the 1870s.

    You could argue that caseless ammunition does have a case. It's either hollow, holds the propellant and consumes itself, or it is the propellant itself with the bullet inserted in the front.

    BTW, that Volcanic principle is still around. There is a uber-fast firing system that uses stacks of bullets and can fire hundreds of thousands of rounds in seconds. I'll try and find the link.

    Edit: Go to the website metalstorm.com
     

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