Why Is It So Hard To Blow Stuff Up?

The movies make it look so easy.  A terrorist/freedom fighter/political activist manages to locate a trunk load of C4.  They drive a car into a building and it explodes. 



Since I’m trying to write something accurate, something that could actually happen, I need to have all the details just right.  The building has to have an entrance a car could approach, the restaurant needs to be fancy, I need to know how fast a car would be going down an urban-European street to draw attention. And blowing a building up in a crowded city without having too many other casualties, is really, really difficult. 

And technical.

And not nearly as fun as I expected. 

So maybe I’ll just insert a line into my document like “And then the restaurant bursts into a fireball”  and try to figure out the logistics later.

Research is hard.  Writing is hard.  Killing off essential characters should be exciting/fun, but today it’s tricky. 

Anyone know a bomb expert I could ask scary questions? 

(Oh…for anyone who is monitoring this…I’m writing a novel.  Not planning anything destructive.)


  • William Kendall

    I consulted someone who’s done work in pyro-technics for the film industry. The central act of my novel is a massive explosion caused by terrorists that winds up killing thousands of people. He recommended finding the line where you put in enough detail, but not too much. He didn’t think it was needed to explain just how much explosives were used. I think the way I ended up writing it worked; I used a dual approach, magnified the force of the explosion with the use of chemicals and fuels placed in the setting itself, and triggered it all at once.

  • Laura C.

    Too funny about your monitoring fears. I was writing a zombie story and did a ton of research on shotguns and fast re-loading. I was afraid, too, but I live in Egypt… I’m sure I’m in some Langly computer somewhere.

  • Suze

    Speaking as a European… you’d have to be going pretty freaking fast to draw someone’s attention on an urban road! 50 is not unusual.. maybe 60-70 mph would make people look up.

    Explosions…not too sure 🙂 although there were plenty of store-front bombs in London in the 80s, and I’m sure most have been written up. Google IRA, London, bombs and you should get some info!

    We’re all going to see each other at Gitmo, it seems!

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