No, this isn’t about InRangeTV opening an account on PornHub.  (Yes, apparently that’s a thing.  No, I haven’t gone looking for it, nor will I.)  This is about the facet of much Action Adventure writing known colloquially as “Gun Porn,” wherein the author includes (and often lovingly describes) various cool and interesting firearms in the story.

This isn’t particularly new; a lot of Louis L’Amour westerns describe interesting (and sometimes obscure) weapons that aren’t commonly found in the run-of-the-mill western (particularly on screen).  But as with any element of storytelling, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

Actually, that’s probably a little too strict.  There is good and bad.  Let’s start with getting the bad out of the way.

“Bad” gun porn comes in two flavors.  The first is “Did Not Do The Research.”  The author heard about a gun, thought it sounded cool (or just exotic), and threw it in without having any idea how it worked, where it could be found, or if it was even in common use at any particular time.  Now, this isn’t all necessarily bad, particularly the last point.  But a classic example would be the episode of Gunsmoke I watched a little while ago, where Matt and Chester were shooting what were clearly Winchester ’94s in, presumably, the 1870s.  Even worse, in print media, you run into things like safeties on Glocks, the awesome destructive power of semi-automatic pistol cartridges (though that can be found in the general gun population sometimes, too), or even mentions of weapons that don’t exist, such as can be found in the first SOBs book.

The other kind of “bad” gun porn is where the author gets a little too into his featured firearm.  Two pages of excruciating detail about the pistol the hero just picked up is a bit unnecessary.  It turns into a version of the Tom Clancy Technical Details.  It becomes an aside that detracts from the story, especially if it’s in the middle of what’s supposed to be an action scene.

None of this is to say that gun porn is a bad thing (I hope not, I use it enough).  It just needs balance.  That’s why I tend not to go into a lot of detail when describing the guns featured in my stories.  I’ll name them, and occasionally make reference to their cartridge as it’s relevant (since, say, 7.62 NATO has different effects from 5.56 NATO, for example), but generally I try to leave it at that.  And if there’s distance, stress, darkness, etc, I try not to get carried away with the point of view character recognizing what the bad guys are carrying.  He might see a shape, but that would be about it.  I know what the bad guys are shooting, but the hero won’t necessarily.  It might take away a chance for some more weaponry-related coolness, but that’s just another reason to have occasional bad guy points of view mixed in.

On Gun Porn

Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Works by Peter include: The American Praetorians Series Task Force Desperate (October 2012) - ebook , paperback and audiobook Hunting in the Shadows (June 2013) - ebook and paperback Alone and Unafraid (August 2014) - ebook and paperback The Devil You Don't Know (June 2015) - ebook and paperback Lex Talionis (June 2017) - ebook and paperback The Jed Horn Series A Silver Cross and a Winchester (October 2013) - ebook and paperback Nightmares (January 2015)- ebook and paperback The Walker on the Hills (December 2015) - ebook and paperback Older and Fouler Things (September 2017) - ebook and paperback The Brannigan's Blackhearts Series/Universe Kill Yuan (Spring 2016) - ebook and paperback Fury in the Gulf (November 2017) - ebook and paperback Burmese Crossfire (January 2018) - ebook and paperback Enemy Unidentified (March 2018) - ebook and paperback Frozen Conflict (May 2018) - ebook and paperback High Desert Vengeance (August 2018) - ebook and paperback Doctors of Death (December 2018) - ebook and paperback The Unity Wars Series (P.L. Nealen) The Fall of Valdek (July 2018) - ebook and paperback The Defense of Provenia (August 2018) - ebook and paperback The Alliance Rises (September 2018) - ebook and paperback Short Stories Rock Meet Hard Place (Part I) - Baen Books Blog Non-Fiction Operation Redwings: The Rescue Story Behind Lone Survivor (December 2013) - ebook only The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam (SOFREP) (November 2014) - ebook only

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