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  1. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Guns, knives, and super soldiers.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Tourist, Jan 31, 2013.

    We've had two interesting threads this afternoon. One on realism, and one about plot devices that are becoming trite. As the topics were discussed, my UPS driver came with an order from my supplier, and I took a quick picture for a firearms forum where I'm a member. In doing so, I thought I'd dovetail my delivery into our topics.

    First, I'm not a sworn officer, a mercenary or a cyborg. I am a varmint shooter, and our rifles shoot out past 400 yards. I was taught how to fire at long ranges by a retired sheriff deputy who had been a sniper for drug interdiction.

    I am not a combat shooter. But I did have my custom 1911s done by famed Terry Tussey. Yikes I dumped a pile of money there! His wife Teresa knows the sound of my voice!

    I am not a togishi. But I do polish cutlery with the same tools used to care for Samurai swords.

    Other than that, I'm just a guy on a bike.

    Below is a collection I'm putting together. Think of them as "spares" for problems on the road, or in touchy situations. These will not become my EDC tools, just stuff to keep in my truck (a mundane F150) in case emergencies happen.

    The pistol is a Taurus PT-22 semi-automatic pistol. Nine shots of 22LR, a cartridge in the pocket of every farm kid in America. The folder is a Kershaw Rake, quite dull until it was polished. The fixed blade is a Buck 119, a staple in the Buck line for +30 years (?)

    Here's my point. Don't chase me into the woods. Ninety percent of folks sound like airhammers doing the cha-cha in brush country. I'll know you're there, and you'll never see me.

    I don't what kind of rifle you have, and it doesn't matter. I detail stripped the pistol and the magazines and cleaned them within an inch of their lives. I took a brick of ammunition to our Gander Mountain indoor range until I could fire a full magazine into golf ball. If I see you, you're toast.

    As for the knives, go to YouTube and watch a Japanese chef slice fish. 'Nuff said.

    Mundane guy, mundane training, mundane tools, mundane scenario.

    Everything was purchased from known suppliers, all training readily available to you. In that light, imagine readers with any smattering of specialized training reading the average spec-ops piece of fiction. And it's not just this topic, attorneys seldom read court room dramas, and the my cop clients only watch police TV shows to laugh at the mistakes.

    If I impress anything on newbie writers it's this circumstance. Even I catch myself stringing pretty words together just for the sound. Or grandiose dialog because it sounds hip.

    Below is 380 dollars worth of average stuff.
     
  2. Mask
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    Mask Member

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    This. Is. So. True. When I hang out with Historians, I am the ignorant guy of the group--yet still I know enough that most depictions of "medieval" times are ludicrous, and sometimes just lazy.

    With the other bits... you remind me of a friend of mine. He grew up shooting varmints on a farm, and is also well-written/spoken. Can't remember the details of his rifle ability, but he can split arrows at 30 paces, and is not someone you want to chase into the woods.


    Looking at the equipment... those are some fine looking knives. I don't doubt the pistol, either. With the "combat knife" (sorry if I'm using the wrong name for it, I'm a little green when it comes to weapon specifications), do you like to use it in underhand or overhand grip?
     
  3. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I hope this statement resonates with the writers here. Because it's true.

    I have been a biker for over forty years. Joined a club at nineteen, and spent five years active, and I am now inactive--still have my rags. We partied around in some of the worse, toughest, and depressing saloons in south central Wisconsin.

    Underhand or overhand grip? I wish I could answer your question, but I can't, because I don't know.

    You see, I've never been in a knife fight. In fact, I have never even seen one, or heard of one rumored in the circle of clubs we partied with. In fact, I believe the stereotypical blade fight, (two guys, fighting in a circle, bowie knives, "stand in the light" atmosphere), never happens!

    The last knife fight I saw was in a retrospective of "West Side Story."

    The folding knife seen is my "eating knife." To date, it has only cut bananas, I did that with the factory edge as part of a piece for my gun forum. The fixed blade, a Buck 119, just arrived and just came out of the box.
     
  4. Mask
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    Glad to hear you've never encountered knife fights. They're nothing as pleasant as movies make them out to be.... and the "fights" is questionable. Knife duels are almost entirely fictional, since few people are dumb enough to willingly fight knife to knife, and when they are you could hardly call it a "duel". When someone who knows how to use a knife... their idea of a fight is turning a guy into a bloody mess inside of two seconds.

    Handy tip for winning a knife fight: Run! Knife fights have no winners, just those who survive.
     
  5. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    LOL. Everyone did, including those in history.

    I enjoy reading actual accounts. They surmise by real newspaper accounts that there were only about 60 real gunfighters in our Wild West. Most never shot at or hit anyone.

    John Wesley Hardin became an attorney. Bat Masterson went back east and became a sports writer. Wyatt Earp became a consultant for Hollywood 'western' movies when he was in his eighties--and despite his reputation, he lived with Josie for 40 years.

    Facts sometimes are surprising. On their way to the OK Corral, Wyatt admitted to his older brother that he had never shot at anyone. When he arrested drunken cowboys, he hit them over the head with his gun barrel. In fact, historians believe that Doc Holiday was the only one of the four of them that hit anyone--and that with a shotgun.

    So much for romance...
     
  6. Cerebral
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    Cerebral Active Member

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    I see your point, but I can't help but wondering if making sure details are as realistic as possible makes for a good story. I mean you'll need room for improvisation and some deviation from reality to advance even a somewhat interesting plot. As a martial arts enthusiast, for example, I can honestly say I have no qualms with the superhuman abilities that Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan seemingly had.

    Plus being too technical might turn readers off. I like watching Steven Seagal dodge bullets in slo-mo. I wouldn't like it if someone kept reminding me while viewing or reading that people can't actually do that.

    Just my thoughts.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    My brother, a criminal attorney of 30 plus years, hates watching cop and/or lawyer shows. I don't think he minds the "poetic license" bits - he knows it's fiction. It's when they can't get the most basic things right that he goes ballistic. It's kinda like making a street in NYC one-way instead of two-way; nobody's going to care that much. But then put NYC in Massachusetts...
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I completely disagree with this statement. You can go sci-fi/fantasy, sure, to escape the real world. And in that case, sure, anything goes. But if you're writing something that allegedly takes place in the real world, not getting the details right is a distraction to the reader and a disservice to them.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That all depends on the story and what kind of detail is being fudged, wouldn't you say?

    Sometimes plausibility trumps realism, especially if it makes a better story. Let's be honest. For every procedure, thre are personnel, or even entire organizations, that become sloppy or lazy.

    If bending reality makes a better story, and a significant part of your readership would overlook the discrepancy, you can opt for the flaw.

    Myself, I would prefer accuracy, and even though my primary interest is science fiction, I go to great lengths for technical accuracy, at least as far as modern science permits. But that doesn't mean I would flush a good ghost story just because I don't believe in ghosts in any way, shape or ectoplasmic form.
     
  10. Cerebral
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    Yeah, I can agree with that to an extent. But I'm just not sure if the details are necessary. If I'm not mistaken, the OP is upset not only when certain things are misrepresented, but also when things are glossed over (I think he says he hates it when stories involving guns don't give you specifics?). All I'm saying is that I don't think that it's wise to limit yourself to a specific audience by making too many references that would only be understood by that audience. If a certain story includes a gun-wielding cowboy, I don't see what benefit would come from telling readers/viewers what kind of gun it is (unless it's important for the plot).

    It's possible that I misunderstood what the OP said, though.
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    A ghost story is exactly the type of story I would exclude as having to comport with the realistic world. By its very premise, it's not dealing with something in the known world. There are no established ghosts, so we can't claim that something the author says about how they work is inaccurate. But if the ghost lives in the Statue of Liberty, and the story takes place in Miami, and the MC is distracted by constant reminders of this ghost, because he has a view of the Statue of Liberty from his Miami apartment, that would be distracting.

    As you indicate -- it's a question of whether the details are necessary. If the details have been included, then they should be accurate. If the gun-wielding cowboy is obsessed with guns and thinks about them constantly, maybe it is appropriate to have information about the different types of guns in the story. If part of the character's personality is that he knows everything there is to know about all types of guns, and he would specify exactly what type of gun he's using in any scenario, then yes -- those details had better be accurate. If the character is just a guy who uses whatever gun happens to be around, and he doesn't pay any attention to what type of gun it is, and it's not mentioned which specific type of gun it is, then there are no specifics that need to be addressed, such as how many bullets that gun holds.

    "Misrepresentation," I don't like, and think it's important to avoid. "Glossed over" -- that depends.
    Actually, I recently read a story, where an important part of the plot was that the MC was charged with a crime. That is, he was the subject of a criminal prosecution. But rather than investigate how a criminal prosecution would proceed, the author glossed over the details and then suddenly had the prosecution dropped for a very unrealistic and unbelievable reason. I wanted to cram the book into a shredder at that point.
     
  12. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Well, each one of you hit the idea a little bit.

    One, sure, most of the action/adventure stuff in all media is bogus. For some reason we all want to keep writing about it, and people keep wanting to pay to experience it.

    Some viewers know it's fiction. But then, most writers haven't a clue what's real and what isn't.

    On top of that I'm certain that when some writer finds out that SW actually does make a eight-shot revolver (a 627, BTW) that some screenplay will be written to make it fire nine times. We don't seem to know, or care.

    But at the end of the day, if some writer did actually pen a story about some real guy, we might actually think that such an idea was utter foolishness. After all, what untrained idiot can hit a guy at 500 yards with .224 caliber bullet? Only a super-secret, black-ops guy, right?

    Well, a guy who can hit a prairie dog at 600 yards with a 22-250, comes to mind. Happens every day in South Dakota.

    There is an untapped resource of honest, believable people and circumstances. Audie Murphy misrepresented both his age and his height to enter the army. He shouldn't have fought in WWII at all. Yet, he was the most decorated soldier in the war.

    But if you wrote the tale now, he'd have been grown in a petri dish and augmented with Cylon parts--in Area 51.
     
  13. captain kate
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    Same here. After spending a minimum of 12 hrs collecting evidence for detectives at homicide scenes, I can't stand to watch any of the CSI or Law and Order for that matter. CSI is such a bunch of merde that it's created a whole grouping of people who want to come through the CSI track at my alma matta and end up quitting when they learn what really happens.

    Witnessing an autopsy in person tends to weed out the wannabe's for the one's who can/will do the job.

    However, as I said above, CSI has got this idea that the CSI gets the evidence, questions the person of interest, and then arrests them. Farthest thing from the truth in any way shape or fashion.
     
  14. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Fantasies...what's real and what isn't? Stashing weapons in your car for touchy situations...who are you to judge when you're living a dream?
     
  15. Mask
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    Oh my gosh... I hate it so much when that happens. I remember one film which involved bank robbery, terrorism, and an attempt to destroy the economy in place--this was all done by the "goody guys". The happy ending was them successfully destroying the economy... the writers apparently foresaw no ill effects coming from this.


    @Kate: Reminds me of a Mexican magazine which was recruiting new photographers... Alarma! was what it was called. They were told to bring their lunch for the interview which was in a hospital--they were to eat it as they watched an autopsy. Considering their job was photographing horrific crime scenes, it was a good idea.


    With the Ghost Stories--generally, I feel that those stories have little impact without realism. I'm not talking about realistic ghosts in this case, but the rest of the story. If the main character was the internet's vision of Chuck Norris, even if the ghost was more powerful it wouldn't be scary or intriguing... because people can't identify with a world where the main character who, when doing the push-ups, pushes the planet's weight instead of his own.
    Chica makes some great points about this.



    From my personal experience writing realistic fantasy (it's a long story), the only time I was constrained by realism was when I was too ignorant or not smart enough to work out a solution. Like, I want to have a fight here, but logically there is no reason to have a fight like X in Y scenario... that got me stuck, until I worked out Z scenario was much better for the kind of story I wanted to tell. Time, research and help have been enough to get me through this problem, so far.
     
  16. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Frankly, it's not a fantasy anymore. The manager of the coffee bar we patronize dates the mall's head of security. Drug deals go down constantly at the food court. Last week a gunshot was fired at the west side mall in their food court. People were so afraid of the bangers that when the cops arrrived "no body saw nuttin' no how."

    Twenty years ago my former pastor moved his family to California. When they returned to Wisconsin to attend a graduation the pastor's wife related how she and her daughter were involved in two cases of turf wars in their mall. When fleeing, she concluded that she had grabbed her daughter, covered her with her own body and hid under a car.

    Compare that story to the people in the Colorado theater. They have a 'no guns' policy, so the four soldiers attending the showing of Batman had no choice but to hide, as well.

    Not me. I'm not going to die on my knees spending my last few seconds on earth looking into the terrified eyes of my wife. I trained as the public claims I should, I applied and paid for my CCW license, I carry by the book (B&N permits firearms and has a special side door) and I have no use for politically correct anything.
     
  17. Mask
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    Oh the terrible irony....

    Politicians and media have about as much understanding oh history and common sense as an opossum in headlights. Switzerland has a huge number of privately owned guns. Their gun-related homicide rates are less than 50 per year...
     
  18. Dante Dases
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    We're not having another thread derailed by talk of where weapons are justified and why it's so great some people want to carry a gun with them. Thread closed.
     
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