Guest Post: Accuracy In Fictional Novels


Editor’s Note: I not only consider James Jackson a friend but have worked with him first hand and can attest to the quality of knowledge on the subject of military and technical issues that he can provide.

Can there really be accuracy in novels that live in the fictional world? They are fiction for a reason. Fiction novels can range from a murder mystery to a techno-thriller and everything in between. Why would accuracy even be considered in a novel of that genre?

Realistically, there are several genres and sub genres within the realm of fictional work. That being said, why should there be any kind of correct or accurate information? Let’s look at an author known for his techno-thrillers, Tom Clancy. In the last few years prior to his death, there was a glut of books that hit the market that were allegedly written by Clancy. I say allegedly because there was another author’s name on the front cover along with his. While that may not mean a whole lot to some readers, those that have read his early works know that there is a distinct difference in his later works. This addition of another author led to a series of problems. What that means is here was an author who prided himself on his accurate depiction of weapons, vehicles, locations, etc., in his earlier books and as soon as another author’s name appeared on the cover with his, just about all that accuracy disappeared.

Not to pick on just Mr. Clancy, there have been other authors that fall short in the detail and accuracy arena. One novel that stands out, for me anyway, is the novel Juggernaut. This novel is set in the last days of Saddam Hussein’s rule of Iraq and features a small Private Military Company (PMC) that gets entangled with the CIA in a search for the legendary Saddam’s Gold. While this is an interesting read, it is fraught with problems. The opening sequence is straight out of something that Hollywood would throw into theaters and the hits just keep coming. The overall storyline is not bad but for those of us who have been in the military, it was a literal comedy of errors.

While that author of Juggernaut wrote a good tale, it was lacking serious accuracy and details that would have fleshed out the story and made it all the more enjoyable.

What he needed was his own Military Technical Advisor. Hollywood has hundreds if not thousands of MTAs available to them yet none of those companies provide any service to authors. That’s the people who write books not the screen writers that work for or at studios. You read that right. There are no Military Technical Advisors that specialize in assisting authors.

Have no fear. There is one site out there that provides that service. That one single site’s primary focus is to assist authors. Who can this be? Why, its The Ward Room.

The Ward Room specializes in assisting authors with military and technical issues. Everything from rank structures to vehicles to the proper handling and use of a specific weapon system. Need to know the difference between a clip and a magazine? We can help. Want to know the difference between a silencer and a suppressor? Got you covered.

If you’re working on a novel that has firearms and the military in the mix, wander on over and see what we can do for you. Some of our services are absolutely free.

jjJames Jackson is a former US Navy Chief Petty Officer. He has spent almost two decades in military service with a large portion of that as a tactical instructor.

During his years in service, he has been part of fielding teams, mobile training teams and interacted with other branches of the US Military as well as foreign military units.

Since leaving the Navy, he has served as an adviser for diplomatic security and as a private military contractor.
He is an author, an outdoor survival instructor, serves as a disaster mitigation consultant, and is a Military Technical Adviser for several published authors.

You can follow James on both The Crossroads and The Wardroom.

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