Right Terminology, Wrong Terminology

There are right names and wrong names for things.

For example, let’s take that church that I mentioned last time. The fictional one that I wanted to firebomb in Blood for Blood, that looks sort of like this..

St james

(I don’t want to give any spoilers as to whether I figured out a way to do it, but…get a bag of marshmallows when you read Blood for Blood…)

Churches have specific terms for specific things in the church. Depending on what kind of church it is, denominationally speaking, even the “right” term can change. I know some of these terms. I don’t know others (but that’s where my on-the-fly research comes in).

But even if I know the correct term, I am not the guy “telling” you the story. I’m writing it, but Charlie Welles is telling it. And Welles’s knowledge (or even use of language/terminology) is only a subset of my own.

I knew there was a term for the main part of the church, where the worshipers sit during services. Not being in the religion business, or even practicing organized religion since I was a kid, I didn’t know what that term was. So I looked it up. It’s the nave. So then I knew it, and I thought it was okay for Welles to know it to, and use it.

I also know that the area at the front of a Roman Catholic church, where the priest speaks from, is called the sanctuary. The altar and some other things are within the sanctuary. Charlie Welles, not having a Catholic priest second cousin who was the chaplain of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, doesn’t know that. So when he describes it, he called that area the altar. Close enough. Works for him, works for the reader, and maybe the reader, like me, knows that it’s actually called the sanctuary.

But let’s get away from the church example and on to what triggered this thought.

Clip. Magazine. The thing that you load an automatic pistol or rifle with. It holds the bullets.

They are not the same thing, though people do sometimes use them interchangeably.


A removable magazine usually allows bullets to be fed into it until it’s full. A fixed magazine often requires that bullets, in a clip, be inserted into it. And that’s your Guns and Ammo moment for the day.

The point being that, as I said, people sometimes use the terms interchangeably. It’s not correct, but they do it. Charlie Welles is one of those people. And that’s a deliberate decision on my part.

Welles isn’t a “gun guy”, though he’s familiar with weapons (from his Army service, his police department service, and now his private investigation business). He knows the proper terminology. But there’s a throwback element of the hard-boiled private dick in him, as he’s written, and I’ve chosen to have him use one term, or the other, or both as the sentence (dialogue, description, whatever) requires. For story reasons. For narrative reasons.

I understand that somebody who knows this stuff might read it and think that I don’t know what I’m writing about. That I don’t know the difference between a magazine and a clip. And I’m okay with that. I’m not writing non-fiction, or gun porn adventure stories. I’m writing about a fictional character who might even think Jimi Hendrix is singing “’Scuse me, while I kiss this fly”…

Because it takes all kinds to populate a world…

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