Boomstick: The Great Tormentor

"This is my BOOMSTICK!"

When it comes to writing horror, sometimes weapons become an essential part of the story. How else would a character defend them self from the great evil that torments and terrorizes them? Anything can be turned into a weapon, even something as simple as a pencil.

Of all the weapons I’ve ever included in my stories, I personally find guns to be the most challenging. I don’t want to make my descriptions of the weapon so complex that the story gets muddled because I’m too focused on what kind of gun the character is using. I also don’t like using names of guns. Most people don’t know the difference between a Ruger 1911 and a Colt AR-15 so there really isn’t a point in specifying. If you’re wondering, at the most fundamental level, the difference is that the Ruger is a pistol and the Colt is a rifle. The difference between a pistol and a rifle in a scene can be huge. At best, the reader will look it up. At worst, they won’t know what the hell I’m talking about and stop reading.

I also don’t like just saying a character has a gun. That’s too vague. In most cases, a gun is an extension of a character. The gun they carry becomes a vital part of who that character is, so some sort of description becomes more or less essential. There are, as always, exceptions to this general rule. If a character has an arsenal of weapons, I’m not going to take the time to describe them all. That would be idiotic.

I don’t have that kind of trouble with a baseball bat. It’s either wood (maybe with a giant nail through the end) or aluminum, ’nuff said. Description over. No muss, no fuss. Guns aren’t like that. There is too much variety with guns. Variety is not always a good thing. Too many choices can lead to bad decisions.

The part I struggle with is knowing exactly how much attention the gun deserves. Every case is different and depends on the scene. Too much detail about the gun can detract from the scene. Too little and the scene can feel like nothing more than garbage scribbled on a page.

How do you know when enough is enough? Or too much? Or too little? It depends. That’s what makes it so difficult. There is no right answer.

Anyone else have that problem, or is it just me? Maybe I just think too much.

Comments, criticism or half drunken rants?

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