Novel research comes in many forms. You can read books, surf the web, interview people and of course, you can go on field trips if the budget allows.
I'm writing a thriller so yes, there are guns and high body count!
Action/adventure thrillers are what I like to read, watch at the movies and write myself so I am embracing the popular novel and writing my religious themed thriller, Pentecost. You can read all about my first novel journey so far here.
In order to write about shooting a gun, I decided it would be a good idea to go and actually shoot one, so a few weeks ago my husband and I headed down to the pistol club to have a shooting experience. Yes, I was wife of the week for suggesting such a thing!
(Please note: This is not a comment on whether guns should be used or the morality of guns in general but they are a reality in my genre.)
I have only shot a rifle once before a long time ago so this was a chance to try a handgun in particular. My protagonist Morgan Stone is ex-Israeli military so she knows how to shoot. I have been primarily researching on the web and also from reading other genre novels but I wanted to write from more personal experience. The police use Glocks here in Australia so you do see them around, but as I am British and also lived in New Zealand I am not really used to guns at all. This may be very unusual for the Americans reading this!
The session was well organised and very safe with two people supervising the two of us novices. We shot a number of guns in order to experience the differences. For those who are technically minded, we tried the following: 22 bolt action Bruno, lever action marlin 38 rifle, Browning 22 pistol, 357 Ruger revolver, Glock 9 mm, 12 gauge double barreled shotgun.
I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, and I was pretty good with the revolver in particular, hitting all the targets. The smell of the gunpowder was distinctive and addictive, as was the satisfaction of hitting the target. It is also clear that hitting anyone with a bullet is difficult (for which we should be grateful). Most films and novels make it sound very easy but it's definitely not!
For a great post on handguns for writers, check out Clarissa Draper's blog post . It's an excellent blog for mystery/thriller writers with loads of in depth articles. Here's another article on silencers.