You Made a Mistake. Now What?

Correcting mistakes writing fiction weapons

Once an error is out there, it’s out there. Sure, an e-book can be corrected on the fly, but what if it’s been months or years since the mistake was made? (Image by T A via

It happens to the best of us. You read this blog, dive into books about writing weapons in fiction, visit sporting goods stores, consult the experts and train to become a full-fledged Terminator. Despite all that, somehow a mistake in the firearm/knife/weapon department makes it through to the published version of your work. What’s an honest writer to do? Continue reading

What are Those Boomerang-Shaped Knives Called?

what is a ghurka knife

TLDR: They’re not machetes. They’re kukris.

When your character absolutely, positively must hack an appendage free from another bag of human meat and bones, consider the kukri. Although the oversized blade design recalls machetes, kukris are their own distinct category of carnage, and for good reason. Here’s the scoop on these devastating knives. Continue reading

Are Your Characters Following Proper Gun and Knife Safety?

Writing tips guns fiction

Characters placing their fingers on triggers well before they should is a safety violation common to movies. Here’s an example of a pistol being drawn from its holster correctly. Keep that finger off the trigger until it’s time to fire, please, or face the embarrassment of your dumb ass shooting yourself in your own dumb ass. (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: If a character is supposed to know something about firearms and knives, abide by common sense safety rules.

Not every character is or needs to be the embodiment of safe firearm and knife handling, but some should demonstrate a basic understanding in keeping their backgrounds. When this doesn’t happen, it’s a clear “tell” that something is wrong with the writer (in the weapons area, since it’s safe to assume writers wouldn’t be writing if there wasn’t something wrong with them in the first place).

Here are the basic safety principles accepted by the firearm and knife worlds.

Continue reading

Unusual Methods for Honing and Sharpening Knives

Sharpen Knives without Sharpeners

Long before commercial knife sharpeners, people around the world used rocks to put an edge on their blades. That still holds true today. (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: Anything as hard or harder than steel can sharpen a knife. Softer materials, such as newspapers, can hone.

In honor of my recent binge of MacGyver on Netflix (viva technology!), I’d like to share with you the secret about sharpening and honing knives: harder objects will sharpen softer objects, and softer objects can hone harder objects. Voila! You are now smarter than 90 percent of the consumer knife market.

I’m oversimplifying here, but it’s true. If your character is in a pinch and needs to sharpen or hone a knife using only mundane objects (i.e. not traditional knife sharpening equipment), here are a few suggestions. Continue reading

Honing vs. Sharpening Knives: What’s the Difference?

Writing fiction tips knives

(Photo by Bob Knight via

TLDR: “Honing” doesn’t remove metal from the blade. “Sharpening” does.

I wish I had a crisp $100 bill every time I read a piece of fiction that used “honing” and “sharpening” incorrectly when depicting a character handling a knife. (Why cut myself short and settle for nickels and dimes?) I’d have enough to retire on a choice Greek island. These terms describe similar actions, but are different in one major way. Continue reading