1. Ozzy
    Offline

    Ozzy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Ohio

    Do I have to be incredibly detailed?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Ozzy, Apr 15, 2015.

    I was reading another thread, and figured since this is the opposite of what what asked, I should ask my own question. My protagonist is in the military. He's not incredibly knowledgeable about all of their equipment, but the stuff that he encounters daily, should I be specific? Instead of saying assault rifle, do I need to say M16 with an A2 flash suppressor? (this is hypothetical, as I haven't decided the guns that will be used)
     
  2. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    You could do. Depends whether you want to appeal to soldier types, or piss off non-military.

    A while back I wrote a piece based in a hospital. Checked with a nurse that I'd got the medical stuff right. Got the piece panned by general readers "This might get published in a nursing magazine."

    YOU need to know if he's using an M16 with flash suppressor, so that you know what he can do with it (and what you can't have him do with it because a soldier would know that an M16 doesn't have battlefield nuclear capability or whatever) but never parade the research you've done. Check the jargon at the door.
     
  3. Ozzy
    Offline

    Ozzy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thank you! I was little worried I'd have to go back through and label everything. I do describe the stuff a little, but since it doesn't matter, it's such a minuscule part, I'd rather just say 'gun'.
     
  4. plothog
    Offline

    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    514
    Location:
    England
    I prefer 'assault rifle' to 'gun', at least to introduce the item, it paints a clearer picture when guns come in so many shapes and sizes. Once you've painted the picture you could switch to calling it a gun.

    A bunch of numbers and letters is boring and forgettable, so I wouldn't tend to get specific with them. With the possible exception of something as well known to the public as the AK47.

    If you happen to have any equipment with cool names like Spitfire or Black Hawk that'd be more tempting to drop in.
     
  5. Piankhy
    Offline

    Piankhy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    4
    Is the guy deployed or a MP? If neither, he probably wouldn't see his weapon much. As for weapon terminology, most guys in the army would refer to their weapon as you had. M-4, M-16, etc.
     
  6. Ozzy
    Offline

    Ozzy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Ohio
    @plothog
    I actually do call it an assault rifle, and later, just rifle, or firearm.
    @Piankhy
    Um... more like fighting a war in his own country. He definitely uses his weapon(s) daily. Maybe at least weekly.

    Follow up: When describing blades - machete, fighting knife, hunting knife - with he MC never using any blade other than a kitchen knife, should I use his terminology, what HE knows, or should I use what the READER will understand?
     
  7. Lea`Brooks
    Offline

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    1,726
    Location:
    Virginia, United States
    If it's told from his perspective, I'd go with what he knows. You can't expect a guy who knows nothing about knives to suddenly know what that knife is called.

    I read a book once where the main character didn't know what a building was made of. The book basically said, "He walked into the chamber and marveled at the smooth stone floor. What was it, granite? Limestone? Christopher didn't know. He was no damn geology expert."

    And I loved that. That one little line. Because it's so true sometimes. If you gave a farmer an assault rifle, they wouldn't know what it was called unless someone told them. So to have a writer say, "The soldier didn't speak. He just handed him an M-16 and ran off to join the battle. The farmer had never seen one like it before, so he wasn't even sure how to use it," just doesn't make sense to me, as a reader.
     
  8. Ozzy
    Offline

    Ozzy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Ohio
    He's given a sidearm, and told what kind it is, then is asked to pick out a blade if he so chooses. The one he chooses is described, but I couldn't even find a name for what I looked for, so he just marvels at the length, size, feel of it. He knows the firearms with training, but the knife is only ever called a knife. Maybe he should be really cool and give it a name... I'm just kidding. Even Rambo didn't name his knife.
     
  9. Piankhy
    Offline

    Piankhy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    4
    I would go with what he knows.

    edit- In the Army, I know we used a gerber for a knife and just called it that.
     
  10. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    Isn't that one of those small rodents?
     
  11. Piankhy
    Offline

    Piankhy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    4
    Lol, that's what I thought when I first heard the name. You're thinking of gerbil though.
     
  12. Ozzy
    Offline

    Ozzy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Ohio
    Thank you. Knowing what things are actually called and what I can mesh together (think Army/Navy/Marine/Air Force all in one 'Army' rather than separate), is incredibly helpful.
     
  13. Piankhy
    Offline

    Piankhy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    4
    An "all in one army" sounds pretty cool. Good luck with your story.
     
  14. Komposten
    Online

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    1,583
    Likes Received:
    670
    Location:
    Sweden
    I agree that simply calling the weapon an "assault rifle" or something similar should to the trick. However, in the case of dialogue, thoughts, etc. you should go with what the character would say/think. E.g. a soldier would be more likely to say "Get that M60 up now!" than "Get that machine gun up now!" What an M60 is can easily be clarified in the narrative around the dialogue: "The soldier picked up the heavy machine gun and rested it on the sand bags."
     
    Ozzy likes this.
  15. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I like using what the character would call it. Sure, the reader might not be familiar with the terminology, but that's a great opportunity for the reader to learn, isn't it? When I was reading science fiction as a preteen, I had no idea what an "ion drive" was, and words like "plasma" and "gamma radiation" were mysteries, too. Science fiction taught me what these terms meant. I'm damn glad the writers didn't dumb down the terms to fit my immature, ignorant brain. They challenged me to learn, and to meet them on their level. :)
     
  16. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    That's the difference between science and technology.

    Learning why a transporter would need Heisenberg compensation is learning about science, which will increase your knowledge and understanding of science.

    Learning that an FN5-7 can penetrate body armour at ranges up to 100 metres will also increase your knowledge, but it won't mean that you will be able to use your understanding of it to make sense of some other scientific or technological idea.
     
  17. Ozzy
    Offline

    Ozzy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Ohio
    Luckily, for me, my character isn't too familiar with every weapon, and will call it what fits for him. Any new weapon, if introduced to him by the actual name, will be called that at the start, however, he'll end up calling it whatever works for him.
     

Share This Page