Gunfight, Really?

“The first click is the trigger sear at the quarter notch, and the second click is the trigger at the half-cock notch, which is where the expression don’t go off half-cocked comes from...” My eyes rolled back in my head at the mansplanation of firing a Colt 45.

Writing a gunfight scene proved to be more difficult than I imagined. I don’t know anything about guns. My experience with real guns comprised running around the forest with my brother and my dad looking for prairie chickens and taking turns holding a 22 something or other. We never did find a chicken. A couple of years ago I experienced the pure joy of shooting a black powder rifle and bruising my shoulder. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really want to know any more about guns or gunfights.

So, maybe I could have my hero, Cord, catch up with the bad guys and (bang, bang) shoot them in the back without warning. Game over. Might be hard to establish tension and characterization with that scenario, though, I needed help.

We hunkered down and watched several westerns. I highly recommend Django Unchained for laughs mixed with copious amounts of blood squirting out of bullet holes. Or the Magnificent Seven if you like lots of rolling, tumbling, and heaving breasts.

I also studied several author’s methods for writing action scenes: short bursts of dialogue, keep the actions simple, show interior thoughts to help readers follow the action, portray chaos.

And then I remembered a paint ball fight with our family amongst the trees back home. It was called president and five of us were assigned the task of protecting a Mexican exchange student (our President) and delivering her to the other side of the battle ground. We made it about two thirds of the way without casualty when a surprise attack ensued and bullets flew. Our entire team was wiped out in seconds. If you want to know the particulars of the attack, you’ll have to read about Cord and the Doc Rufus Gang in Fool’s Notion.

I think the novel is done! However, an editor or publisher often wants to add or take away material. We’ll see what happens when I submit it.


Have a grand week!