I always knew I wanted to be a great writer, not just a good one, and I know that getting there involves a lot more than just making stuff up and writing it in a pretty style – I spend more time researching (much of it hands-on) than ever I do writing and I am VERY aware that my books might be picked up and read by soldiers, police officers, shooters, martial artists, truck drivers, motorcyclists, doctors, pilots, criminologists, psychologists, herbalists, psychics and historians plus a host of other people in occupations I have touched on or written more deeply about who live and breathe what I have covered – I want each and every one of those people to nod and say, “Yes, she’s got it right, how refreshing,” and stay on to read the book or, better still, pick up my next one.
I want regular readers to know that they have something that’s good, something with integrity. For that purpose, I do my best to be 100% accurate and for the most part I achieve it without long-winded descriptions of technical detail (while still keeping the technical detail!). I don’t bore people.
Yes, taking on that martial arts course (see Have I ever mentioned I’m a coward?), then getting serious with it and training with the cops for roughly a year and a half (see I just wanted to write fight scenes, but I had to drop a policeman to achieve it!) was all done so I knew how to fight and how to write a trained fighting scene – Believe me, I have read some bad fight scenes that show the writer’s poor understanding of the dynamics involved, not to mention the repercussions – bare knuckle fights don’t work so well, people lose fingers when they punch someone in the mouth, not because they get bitten but because the human mouth can be a dirty place and after the hand gets damaged, infection sets in.
A lot of us have been brought up on those B-grade movies where punching was common and it has given society a faulty belief system – and a sloppy writer doesn’t know any better than to guess or make stuff up.
Over the years, I have seen some pretty poor examples when it comes to realism.
I have read of broken jaws with only one break (doesn’t happen – a jaw is rigid, if you’ve got one break you’ve got at least one other); modern books with a broken jaw wired shut (hasn’t happened since the late 1980s, I believe, nowadays it’s internal fixation allowing jaw mobility); a jaw broken from a punch that healed under hospital care leaving a “dent” for life, like the bone had healed without being straightened (jaws don’t dent in unless you’ve been hit with a truck for a full facial cave-in, and even then probably not, jaws “drop” when they are broken and often don’t look broken at all); computer “experts” who reached into the back of a computer to throw a switch and turn off password protection (THAT book got thrown across the room!) and Glocks with safeties that were looked at to “be sure the safeties were off” (it’s not a Glock) – to detail but a few.
One of those authors (the one with the wired jaw and the dent left for life) is actually a big name. I like his work and it surprised me that a writer of that caliber could make such a fundamental mistake. If you’re going to detail something, at least know what you’re talking about or look it up!
So, anyhoo, there I was in that classroom, present because I wanted to write a fight scene which had to be real, with proper training rather than a brawl. Did I get the info I wanted? You bet I did! It’s in book one – The Khekarian Threat, after a very delicious scene (I’m not going to spoil it for you).
I gave some of that training to Sevi, too, of course. Greg (husband, reader and honest critic) wondered at the feasibility of the simple moves I gave her in the bar in that hostile town (again, I’m not going to spoil it for you), so I demonstrated it on him and proved it – Nicely, to be sure, with no table to meet his face, and hence no blood. He got the message (yes, he is still talking to me).
Originally, though, I learned it for Jackie.
Jackie was a favorite character right form the start. I wanted her to be smart, down-to-Earth and capable of physically looking after herself. I didn’t want to write, “She threw him across the room,” I wanted to write HOW she threw him across the room. Of course, “throwing across the room” didn’t actually get written, but you know what I’m saying. I really wanted to write effective and accurate fighting maneuvers, showing real skill, rather than put up shabby fight scenes or dodge it with some vague “And then they had a fight,” line.
After that, the question was, do I make her an ex-soldier or an ex-cop?
I went for the soldier, which turned out fortuitous when Sevi joined the team. Sevi, as some of you know, is an elite Khekarian soldier with formidable skill, quite cool and calculating, which is why I refer to her frequently as a veritable killing machine. Jackie, with her soldering background, was then in a good position to let the rest of the Good Guys know what Sevi (a Bad Guy) was/is capable of.
Jackie is not as skilled as Sevi is. She has also been out of the forces for some time, so her training has slipped as well, both physical training and weapons training as might happen when you step away from one of the Forces, which she soon brings back into practice when she realized what she and Raoul’s team are up against.
That’s when the weapons training came in.
I wish I could say I was there on that one, but I was not. I’ve certainly handled a gun and had a gun license for some years, but the scenes I got for Jackie’s lessons to Raoul’s team – grip, stance, aim, dry shooting and sight alignment practice – came from reading/researching the experiences (and questions) of the professionals, the cops and SWAT teams of the USA.
Have a great day, everyone!