Monday, January 11, 2016

Plotline: Gun

In case you’ve been living in another galaxy, it’s time to catch you up to speed. Guns are a hot topic in the United States. 

With modern day controversies, why not just take them out of your novel altogether? 

We're novelists! We have a long heritage of nonconformity in regards to modern political movements.

Political and cultural wrangling aside, what can guns do for your novel?

Give strength to the weak. The smallest are physically equal to the largest if guns are involved. Muscles don’t mean much here.

Move the plotline along quickly. Remember Raiders of the Lost Ark? Yeah. Indiana Jones brought the sword-wielding villain down pretty fast.

Add a character. Sometimes characters love their weapons so much, the gun takes on its own personality. James Bond’s Walther PPK is a great example.

Tension. Who can forget The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly’s stellar scene at the end?

Accessorize the characters. A holster slung low on the gunman’s hip. An AK-47 strap draped over a shoulder. Or the best…Get Smart’s 99 and her array of guns.

Make a bad guy even worse. Just like a gun making a weak character strong and moving the plot line along quickly, one pull of the trigger can make a bad guy even worse. And fast.

So, in todays political tempest, should you use guns in your novels? If the plotline calls for it, yep. If you want to be counter-culture, yep. And if you like guns, of course.

And if you simply cannot induce yourself to include guns, if they're so distasteful you cannot even type the words Colt .45, then by all means, leave the guns out. 

Go ahead and have two cowboys sword fight. 

(For two cowboys sword fighting, read my novel, West for the Black Hills!)
Peter Leavell is an award winning historical fiction author. He and his family research together, creating magnificent adventures. Catch up with him on his website at, or friend him on Facebook: 
Peter R. Leavell.
Philip Anderson keeps his past close to the vest. Haunted by the murder of his parents as they traveled West in their covered wagon, his many unanswered questions about that night still torment him. 
His only desire is to live quietly on his homestead and raise horses. He meets Anna, a beautiful young woman with secrets of her own. Falling in love was not part of his plan. Can Philip tell her how he feels before it’s too late?
With Anna a pawn in the corrupt schemes brewing in the nearby Dakota town, Philip is forced to become a reluctant gunslinger. Will Philip’s uncannily trained horses and unsurpassed sharpshooting skills help him free Anna and find out what really happened to his family in the wilderness?


  1. Thoughtful post. I have had guns in my western historicals and once had an evil guy die... But in general, old west towns had folks check in their weapons. The big draws in the middle of the Main Street were a Hollywood invention for the most part. But I like to think we've grown up in the past 150 years and personally, after Sandy Hook first graders were slaughtered on my grandson's sixth birthday, I find no acceptable reason for guns in a civilized society and yes, I henceforth plot to avoid them in my stories. Sorry for the soapbox.

  2. Checking guns could be a whole plot in itself! Good thoughts, Tanya. Guns, nukes...let's get rid of all of them!

  3. I'm for realism. My Dad told stories of 1920's Oklahoma and the men wearing gunbelts. Reading biographies gives me a clear picture that guns were a part of everyday life and for every kid living outside the big cities, a necessity. Whether snagging supper on the walk home from school or protecting your family from unsavory sorts, society leant itself to a healthy respect of a person's right to protection.


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