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A Writer's Love

My Adventures in Writing.

How to Write Sword Fighting Scenes

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How to Write Sword Fighting Scenes

By

Darrin Zielinski

 

1) When did you start to learn fencing, then teaching?

            I started fencing in 1983 under Fencing Master Graham Jennings who taught within the Italian School of fencing.  Fencing schools are like the variations within an oriental martial art.  It is all fencing.  It’s just that a different philosophy of fencing shapes the way the fencer fences.  The Italian School is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, school of fencing.  Its philosophy was once summarized by a master as “controlling your opponent’s weapon until you have killed him”.  That philosophy goes back centuries and is the basis for the techniques that were taught.

         In early 1985, I began assisting the fencing instructor at Bradley University in Illinois. During my senior year, ’87-’88, due to the instructor’s schedule conflicts I took over teaching that class.  Following college, I continued to coach the Bradley Fencing Club and teaching a semester class through Bradley until 2007 when I had to take a break due to tendonitis.

2) Tell me about the times when you would work with the role players. What did you do and why?

            I began role playing games in high school as a player.  I really enjoyed creating characters with depth and complexity. In college, I continued to play unique character concepts but I also started game mastering in the fantasy, science fiction and super hero genres. This involved coming up with a plots and sub-plots as well as antagonists and supporting characters.  The players came up with the main characters and they’d play through the story. 

            I was fortunate to have friends in theatre so the characters they played helped to make the storylines come alive as the interaction between the players added elements to the story that gave it depth.  It was very rewarding and I wish I had the time now to do it.

            Because my friends created and played characters with such depth, I worked with each to get an idea of what their character was all about so I could design plots that would allow the player to really showcase their creation.

3) How does a writer incorporate fencing/fighting into his novel?

            Short answer: With a purpose.  Just as with any other aspect of a story, fighting needs to be a natural element of the story.  Including a fight for the sake of including a fight will be very unsatisfying to write and read.  The fights must progress the storyline.  

            When you are outlining your story, determine if and when fights will be part of the story.  If there is no reason the character should get into a fight, don’t write one in.

4) You had once said match the weapon to the fighter. How do you do this?

            Short answer: Know your character and your weapons.  In order to do this, you have to understand the personality of your character and understand how various weapons are used.  In many cases, it can be a personal preference for either the writer or the character but what I find to be very engaging as a reader is when the character’s personality is reflected in the choice of or even design of a weapon.

            Understanding weapons is a whole subject on its own and I will come up with an overview and some short essays on the various weapons to provide that information.  However, before you can use that information you must picture your character’s personality and how he would handle a conflict.  Then picture what the character sees as fashionable.  Weapons can be made anywhere along that spectrum from very crudely to elegantly or ornate.

            Very briefly, I’ll offer a few very general examples of matching personality with weapon. A character who prefers to accomplish his goals through affecting those around him as opposed to getting too involved himself might find the bow a very fitting weapon.  It would allow him to remain on the fringe of a fight and still affect the outcome.

            An aggressive, in-your-face, type character might favor the speed and aggression of the dagger.  This weapon requires the wielder to get very close to the opponent in order to kill him and would be a logical extension of his personality.

            A character who prefers to resolve conflict through brute force has several options.  If he is aggressive, the axe or hammer would be ideal.  If he is more defensive in nature, a sword and shield would compliment him well.

            This is only a highly generalized set of examples.  Still, I hope it helps illustrate the concept of matching personality with weapon.

5) How does the writer learn about weapons?

            Look through the shelves of any bookstore and you’ll find books about the histories of weapons.  These are great resources since you don’t have to know what you are looking for to find something interesting.  Just look through the pages and you will see many varieties of weapons.  Once you see them, it will be easier to picture what it would look like with your character.

            Once you have found certain weapons you like, you can search the web for techniques.  Pay close attention to who is writing what you read.  There are many groups out there that think they know how to use the weapons but they rarely have any real knowledge.

            I’ll come up with a list of resources and provide those later.

6) Does the writer need to take fencing lessons in order to write fight scenes?

            Definitely not.  In fact, taking any one martial art has the capacity to induce myopia.  Basically, you learn the one way of doing something and now you can’t picture the other possibilities.  Though I am an experienced fencer, I am also a military historian with a special interest in the battlefield tactics employed and the progression of weapon and armor design.  You are better off reading about it than doing it if your goal is simply to write better fight scenes.

            Having said that, the one thing you just cannot imagine is what it feels like to face an opponent at arms length knowing that any mistake will cost you.  The emotions can be described but I would argue that they are harder to convey effectively unless you have experienced them yourself.

7) You had said to me that one doesn’t need to use Japanese fighting. What other martial arts are there?

            First, you must understand what a ‘martial art’ is.  Our Western mindset is molded by the fact that war and combat has never been widely written about as an art.  The term became widely used as we learned more about the oriental fighting styles after World War II.  What makes this worse is that the use of swords in combat in the west ended in the 1800’s whereas the Japanese were using swords during WW II.  They weren’t decorative.  Their officers were trained to use them.  That knowledge remains whereas the art of the western swords has largely been lost.

            Hollywood then became our teacher on how swords were used.  Japanese films depicted their weapon use more accurately because the knowledge had not been lost.  Unfortunately, Hollywood had no experts to call on until recently.  They followed the more theatrical approach to swordplay.  The result is that we rarely see how formidable a medieval swordsman was but can easily find oriental examples of sword use.  Thus was born our misconceptions

            The fact is that any form of combat, armed or unarmed, that is based on a philosophy or theory that governs how the individual should fight is a martial art.  A martial art teaches you how to employ your chosen weapon against various opponents, styles and even other weapons.  You learn the strengths and weaknesses of your weapon and style.  Then you learn to cover those weaknesses and enhance the strengths.  This is what makes it an art. 

            A simple answer to your second question is fencing, savate, boxing and wrestling. However, this is still too narrow a view of martial arts.  The fact is every soldier in history that is part of an organized standing army learns a martial art.   Learning how to employ your weapons to remain alive and defeat your opponent requires an understanding of a great deal more than just how to swing, punch or stab.

            Jousting is a martial art requiring finesse as well as strength and horsemanship.  Knife fighting is a particularly aggressive form of combat requiring a great deal of dexterity and speed.  Using a bow effectively, on foot or horseback, is impossible without proper training.  The use of a sword is much more complex because there are so many different sword designs and each is designed for a particular use.  Using a rapier like you would a bastard sword renders you completely ineffective against almost any opponent.  Learning to use any particular sword effectively is an art.

            Once you understand this, a wealth of colorful possibilities open up to you when you decide to include a fight scene, especially in the fantasy genre.

8 ) What is the best way to write a fight scene?

            Picture it in your mind.  Start with picturing the characters’ personalities and then picture what you want to happen in the fight. Finally, picture where you want the fight to occur and then ‘choreograph’ it 

            One other aspect that is critical to writing a fight scene is clearly describing the action in enough detail that the reader can ‘feel’ the character’s experience.  Consider writing the scene in a way that the reader can picture what it would be like to be in the character’s shoes.           

9) Where does the writer get his fighting info from?

            I love this question.  This one has no simple answer.  The information you seek is actually all around you.  In order to write a good fight scene, you must both understand the nature of combat and you must expose yourself to all of the possibilities of combat so that you can picture a believable fight in your mind.

            Let’s start with the obvious.  Watch movies with dynamic fight scenes.  Don’t worry about whether they are realistic or not, that will come with experience and learning.  Notice all of the different weapons employed.  Notice all of the different ways one can be injured or killed.  Notice how moments of suspense are choreographed in.  The more you notice, the more fertile your imagination will be.

            Next, let’s move to reading other writers’ fight scenes.  See if you can picture the scenes better now that you’ve watched so many in movies.  Now you can start to see whether a writer is describing the scene with enough detail for you to understand what is happening.  You can also determine if the writer has choreographed a dynamic or suspenseful fight or just ‘walked you through it’.  Obviously, we want to paint the picture for the reader so you can learn form what other writers did or did not do.

            OK.  Now we have seen and read many fights.  Now we have to learn a bit about what is believable in order that we don’t ask our readers to suspend their disbelief too far.  To do this, find documentaries on how these weapons were used.  One program in particular, I think by the History Channel, was “Conquest”.  It was hosted by Peter Woodward and each episode showcased a particular weapon or set of weapons and how they were employed.  You will find no better resource short of studying that art yourself.  Examples include, the sword, the axe, the spear, bows, knives.  Roman weapons, etc. and each was an hour episode covering that single subject

            Watching these documentaries will help you learn what is realistic and what is pure Hollywood.  This will help you write believable fights.  To illustrate the difference between Hollywood and realistic, compare an Errol Flynn swashbuckling movie to something like The Princess Bride, where Errol used large arm and leg movements, the Wesley and Inigo characters kept the movements small and deliberate. 

              Let’s take it to the next level.  Combat is, by definition, a fight for survival. Watch nature programs where animals fight.  Notice how they try to psyche the opponent out, how they try to keep the high ground, how they discourage an attack.  Notice how two different animals fight.  A classic is the cobra and the mongoose. This fight is to the death and the mongoose, the predator, does not always win.  Notice how he maneuvers around the cobra.  Notice how the cobra always faces the threat. 

              All of these basic concepts apply to human combat with and without weapons.  You just need to be able to notice it.  Then start thinking of what they are teaching you.

10) What movies can I watch to get fighting ideas?

            There are several movies I would highly recommend.  “The Princess Bride” includes a very good fencing scene between Inigo Montoya and Wesley.  It is so well executed that you cannot tell they are fencing with their off hand to begin with.  During the fight, they are discussing the application of the theories of several of the great masters.  Up to the point where Inigo begins using both hands on his rapier, it is a very good example of how you employ a rapier in combat.

            A second movie is “The Three Musketeers” (1993), starring Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland and Oliver Platt.  In this movie, all weapons are used properly but the fighting includes tactics that employ the character’s surroundings.  This is a very important factor as a good fight scene is dynamic, adapting itself to the setting where it takes place.  Also, each Musketeer has his own style of fighting that ties closely with his personality.

            “Gladiator” (2000) provides a great deal of perspective on how soldiers fight, Roman or Gallic, and showcases many weapon possibilities in the gladiatorial games.  “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy also provides a wealth of fight scenes both in the context of a larger battle and in individual combat.

            “First Knight” also provides a great deal of variety in its fight scenes.  Though a bit on the theatrical side, it still has a very real feel through most of the fights.

11) I remember you had written out a summary of non-fighting men. How would you go about creating a fighting scene for say a scoundrel or a thief?

            By non-fighting men, I was referring to those who are not trained for warfare.  In general, a warrior’s style is influenced more by his training than by his personality.  The personality basically influences how he uses his training.  Non-warriors, such as thieves, pirates and swashbucklers, on the other hand, are much more influenced by their personality than their training.  There can be exceptions, such as the members of an organized assassin’s guild specializing is certain methods.  However, it is more important to understand your non-warrior very well in order to make the character’s fight scenes believable.

            Therefore, in order to write a convincing fight scene, you really must understand how your character deals with conflict.  Then, just as for any other character, picture it.  How is he attacked?  How would he handle the stress?  In most cases, a fight scene would end with either the character escaping after tricking or hampering the attackers or use something in his environment to deal with them.  The falling chandelier or thrown oil lamp can do wonders in taking down the attacker.

12) Some writers think it would only take a child 4 or 5 years of day-to-day training to get to a high level of swordsmanship.  What is your opinion of this and how long does it take and what is the course of action they would take?

            This is an important question.  There are two facts that must be clearly understood if you are going to develop believable characters when it comes to fighting.  I’ve read authors with these “wonder students” and their books proved very unsatisfying to me.  The first fact is that unless you are using a dagger, every other weapon requires strength to wield effectively for any period of time.  Remember that fights may last several minutes but battles last several hours and if you are going to survive, you must be strong. Historically, the only reason weapon use is learned is for battle.  A child will not have the required strength until he reaches 17 or 18.

            Couple this with the second fact, learning a weapon takes a very long time.  Anyone can learn to swing a sword or axe in a couple of hours.  However, using a weapon is not a matter of “swinging” as most weapons were designed to attack with a slash, chop and thrust.  Add to that that there might be multiple parts of the weapon that could be used for attack.  It is also a matter of the brain recognizing a threat, deciding from all of the possible counters, signaling the muscles to move the weapon, then actually moving the weapon while being ready to recognize the opponent’s evasion of your chosen move and repeating the whole process again.  This takes many years to master.  As Aldo Nadi said, “there are no ‘born fencers’.  Olympic fencers, as a modern example start before the age of 10 and are in their 20’s or 30’s before they actually make it to the Olympics.

            Let’s put this in perspective.  A child studying the art of the sword spends 10 or more years learning it before having the opportunity to face an opponent that is not a fellow student.  Then it is to the death.  All of the lessons that can only be learned from constant real combat come slowly since you cannot completely simulate a real combat.  That is why the Europeans held tournaments.  This provided a facsimile of real combat with less chance of death.

            If a modern fencer had to go through the same style of learning, most would be dead long before their mid 20’s because the older warriors are more skilled due to their greater experience.  This is one fact “The Three Musketeers” got right when D’Artagnan is bested by Rochefort near the end of the movie.  It was only the luck that Constance was there to hand him a sword.  There is no expertise without experience and when it comes to a martial art, that experience is very expensive, often costing the student’s life.

            Writing a believable fight outcome where an expert antagonist faces the less experienced protagonist requires this understanding.  The protagonist would not succeed in a straight fight, some other source of victory must be found.

            As for the training regimen followed, that would vary by culture but would not be simply practicing 12 hours a day 7 days a week.  Learning a martial art is very intellectually intensive and lessons should not last more than an hour.  There is a great deal to learn in a lesson and it takes a long time to become proficient in what the lesson taught both physically and mentally.  The goal it to make the weapon’s use instinctive and that can only come with a great deal of time.

            Learning would also encompass studying history to understand the reasons behind the success or failure of others.  Physical conditioning builds both strength and endurance.  Endurance is built by continuous activity of varying intensities.  Therefore, building that endurance was built by manual labor, usually the heavier chores like chopping wood or pitching hay.

13) Any other stuff that I forgot? Feel free to add anything else you want.

I hesitate adding anything as it was hard enough sticking to the questions you posed.  I kept trying to go much deeper and explain things more completely.  You’ve convinced me that I should compile a book of sorts to make this information available.

*****************************************************************

Pretty cool, huh?  This guy taught me how to write impressive sword scenes.  Actually, this is just a sample of what he knows.  Feel free to link this article to your blog, but please give Darrin the credit. If you have any questions for Darrin, then please post them and I’ll forward them to him.  I will probably bring him back to give us more sword teachings.   Thanks.

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24 thoughts on “How to Write Sword Fighting Scenes
  • Excellent interview, Kim.

    I’d like to add another source of information on creating believable fight scenes. I have “Them’s Fightin Words” by Teel James Glen, who choreographed fight scenes for hollywood. Interesting that he described fight scenes there in great detail — and then did the same in the fiction work he had me review. The action slowed right down as he virtually lectured about it. I pointed this out in my review and in his next novel he took my hint and kept his eye on the story.

    Christopher Hoare.

    The Iskander series – Arrival, Deadly Enterprise, The Wildcat’s Victory, The Wildcat’s Burden
    see links to all at –
    http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/eAuthor.php?Name=Christopher%20Hoare
    http://www.freewebs.com/chriskander/
    http://thewildcatsvictory.wordpress.com

  • Kim says:

    Cool!! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Jennifer says:

    I am only 14 years old and am just starting to write my first book, which I am planning on getting published. Yes, I know I’m young, but I have wanted to be an author my entire life and have been writing just as long. I am currently working on a part in my book where the protagonist is learning to fight. I plan on the protagonist fighting with several different weapons later on in the book, but I don’t know how to use any of them. I am starting with sword fighting because it seems to be the easiest to research. Do you have any suggestions on what and how the character should learn?

  • Kim says:

    Hi Jennifer. I’m so glad you’re writing. And no, you’re not too young to write and be published, so don’t worry about your age. :) As for the protagonis learning to use the sword, he will need a master who is willing to teach him, despite HOllywood’s belief that someone can learn without a teacher. It will take the student at least a good 5 to ten years to be able to use the sword accordingly. He will have to do lots and lots and lots and lots of fencing lessons and drills. You don’t have to get into details, just say, Foster was tired of all the drills, or he dreaded another day of drills, etc. Something that lets the reader know the MC is doing drills. Sometimes he will do the same drills over and over again until it becomes second nature like riding a bike.

    Also remember, when we watch Lord of the Rings and Aragon kills someone, we don’t feel what a real swordsman feels and that’s taking another’s life. It can be tramatizing and horrifying to kill another man the first time and the first kill always sticks with the swordsman. But he knows he has to do it or die. It can be very hard for a young swordsman to actually take another’s life. He does it out of honor and to protect his country, family and king. He has no choice. Plus he needs battle experience. He won’t be able to learn the sword in a year, then jump into the thick of a battle. No one will want him b/c he is too inexperienced and could get the others killed. he needs to be in at least one or two battles and be under someone’s authority, like his master or a general. It’s sort of like our army. The young men/women go to bootcamp, then are assigned to a platoon. The more experienced soldiers tell and guide the newbie. He doesn’t lead just yet, nor is he put into a more leadership role on the first week.

    Then there’s the fear of dying. He could die during this fight and that’s something that he needs to overcome and some swordsmen even embrace dying as with the samari. he has to learn to quell his panic and do what needs to be done and that’s kill or disarm the enemy. So he might want to do breathing exercises or be put into dangerous situations in which he must control his emotions. His master will also need to teach him how to control fear and panic as he is fencing. He will also need to do little things like take care of his master’s armor and weapons b/c if the student doesn’t know how to take care of his weapons, he’ll die on the battle field. He will also need to learn discipline, like cleaning the house, taking care of the horses, etc. It creates a form of discipline and focus.

    Also knights in medieval times often had the jousting as a way to ‘practice’ battle strategies. They also had sword fights to keep themselves ready for battle. Even when the knight on horseback tried to snag a ring with his lance, it wasn’t to show off how well he did, but to practice slamming his lance into another rider’s head. It was all for battle.

    The student will need to strengthen his body so the master should have him do lots of strength workouts like cutting wood. My fencing friend says cutting wood will always strengthen anyone. As for learning moves, he suggested that I go to youtube.com and study videos that had sword fighting in them. I would watch the video, pause, write what I saw, watch, pause, write until I had the whole video on paper. Then I would watch another one and study and write about that one until I had a list of moves. Then I would put them together. I also did this with other weapons such as the axe and staff. It helps. A great book to read is THE ART OF THE FOIL by Luigi Barbasetti. It is a great book that goes into detail on how to fence. One thing Luigi stresses is never show fear of any kind. NEVER. So your character will need to control his fear. Also if you can, go to a Renaissance fair, any fair that is near your city. Watch the swordsmen fight. A fight usually lasts about a few minutes, then one is dead or disarmed. Hold a real sword in your hands and notice the weight and length of the blade. It helps. I was amazed when I looked down the blade and it seemed to go on forever. How these guys did this is beyond me.

    So what your MC needs to do is first find a master willing to teach him. He will learn lessons and do drills in the morning, chop wood in the afternoon, clean the house, chop more wood, do more drills and finally drop into bed, then do it all over again the next day. His life will revolve around swordsmanship and fighting. the master will use whatever opportunity he can to teach his student how to overcome fear and panic and how to focus on what he is doing with his sword. Does that help? You don’t have to get into details, just get your point across to the reader. I’m going to bring Darren back on the board next year for another article maybe on this subject? We’ll see. Thanks for reading and if you have more questions, please let me know.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much! This really helps.

  • Kim says:

    Not a problem. Enjoy your writing. :)

  • Beka says:

    Thank you so much! This is and will be so useful to me! I am 16 and currently working on a very long story. At this point I am on a sword fight but its just for fun between the characters. Later on at the end of the story there will be a war and lots of fights. I was so worried because I had no idea how to write a sword fight but this interview has helped me so much! I had never thought about a lot he said. Now I cannot wait to write these scenes and I was excited when I realized I own all but one movie they said to watch. Thank you so much!

  • Kim says:

    I am so happy Darren’s articles helped you!! Keep writing!!

  • Christopher says:

    Hello, I’m currently trying to just get my thoughts out of my head! I have a stack of papers (mostly fight scenes) and I’m working on typing them all up to post on my blog site. I found this article very helpful because my latest scene has a off-beat sociopath going up against a Hulk-esque behemoth in the middle of the Desert with only his more-than-significantly impressive knife skills. But my problem is actually the “slow” scenes, those buildup moments that show why someone is fighting for survival against a psychic who can telepathically wield 6 stone swords weighing a ton each, or mercilessly running threads through the nerves and tendons of a paralyed victim. I have a base story outline and my characters are all fleshed out nicely, But I don’t want to post anything until I have this last component. Feel free to post on my blog site (www.qwertyisevil.com) or email me a response.

    P.S. If you know any manga artist or anime designers, I would be more than happy to share my work with them to see it come to picture! Thanks!

  • Kim says:

    MMM . . . I’ll pass this onto Darren and see what he says.

  • Colonel says:

    I am so glad that there-are lots of writers here, I was only 13-14 years old when I began to write the story, as I was having school so- writing was not my main job, I have recently finished 12th grade of high school and I got the average-of 96 out 100, studying hard suspended my story, and I wanted to know how to write-a duel scene, and how to-use mace-and javelin? thanks!

  • Kim says:

    From what I understand, your character has got to have a lot of upper body strength to use a mace. It can be exhausting to use. It can be pretty hard to control, but it’s not impossible. Your character will have to get really close to his opponent especially if he has a sword. My suggestion is to check out youtube videos that use the mace. Here’s a good one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S87kkS5m5Y http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gELW7Ku11to htrttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6g8GZU9W1M&feature=related That should get you started with the mace. The Javelin is a spear, so remember if you throw it, you lose it!! So I would say, hang onto the dog gone thing!!! here’s some videos to help you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8RWLxlzTiM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_IIHlFOEiI&feature=related I would also really encourage you to hit the medieval faires around your area. Ask lots of questions to the dueling ‘knights’ and swordsmen. They know much more than I do. Do your homework. The more studying you do on both weapons, the better and more realistic the story is.

    Always remember what a fencing master told me. “When God gives you an opening, you take it!!!!”

  • Mouse says:

    This was very interesting and helpful; thank you for sharing. I do have one question however – how would a totally inexperienced character who doesn’t have a clue how to even hold the sword go about defeating an obviously skilled antagonist who is merely toying with him? Currently I have the poor guy getting his opponent to trip while he tries to figure something out. He’s already lost two blades and is down to a knife. The opponent is wielding two axes. Thanks much!
    -Mouse

  • Kim says:

    Wow!! mmmm . . . I would say try to distract him, then run like mad. :))) Or as Darren has always said, everything is weapon. Is there a chair around? The MC can use it like the lion tamer does, to push the Antagonist back and make his way to the door. What about a fire poker? Those are heavy and can be used the same as a sword or even a pike. Ever been on a spiral staircase? Know why they are spiral? Ever try to fight on one? The person going up has the upper hand, while the guy below is in a bad situation. Is there a glass of beer nearby? the MC can toss it in the Ant’s face, distracting him. swinging two axes can make the Ant unstable, so maybe then the MC tosses the beer in the Ant’s face allowing him to escape.

    I suggest you grab some nerf swords and axes and play out the scene with a friend. See what you can come up with. Have the friend be the Ant with two ‘axes’ and you have a small ‘knife’. What do your instincts say? What do you want to do? How can you get out of it? You’d be surprised what you can come up with. Of course the MC doesn’t have this kind of luxery and you’ll have to make sure it’s not ‘controlled’. But I’m sure you could come up with something cool. :) Let me know what you come up with and post it if you want. :)

  • Mouse says:

    I like the idea of acting it out – as it’s outside in the middle of another, larger battle I couldn’t work in the other ideas in this scene, but they were excellent! Thank you very much; when I complete the scene I’ll have to post it for you. Thanks much again! :)
    -Mouse

  • Kim says:

    Not a problem. Have fun. And I’d love to see what you come up with. Also check out the second Lord of the Rings show. There’s a great fight scene in there, you might get some ideas for that too. :)

  • Mouse says:

    Names replaced with MC and BG (for Bad Guy – creative, right?)

    MC tried wildly to think of something he’d learned from reading fights and watching the fencing team. Fencing was too fast-paced for a non-fencer to make sense of the movements. Okay, that didn’t help. You were supposed to have trained for years – too late for that; you should always have the better weapon – that was out too; using the environment is always helpful – hmm…
    He jumped over a dead body, backing away and hoping she would follow.
    She did.
    She must not have seen what he had done. As he’d jumped over, he’d kicked the arm out a little further in the hopes that the sword in the corpse’s hand would catch her, or at least give her a scrape worthy of a band-aid. One foot was over. The second one lifted, higher, and… caught!
    With a loud shriek, BG tumbled to the ground. He wanted to dance. She’d tripped! She’d tripped just like he’d planned!
    Then he remembered that she still had both her axes.
    Her titian hair had spilled out of its bun and was now in long cascades over her shoulders as she stood again. A red, wet gash ran from her left hip slightly up and all the way across her torso. BG dropped the axe in her right hand and staggered forward, gripping his shoulder to steady herself. He shut his eyes and stabbed forward blindly with the knife.
    Words that made him wince tore out of her perfectly painted mouth. Then with her left hand, BG brought down the axe she still gripped.
    He screamed as the flesh of his right arm was ripped off, straight down to the bone. Crimson spray exploded from his arm, and pain seared through his entire body as if he was being thrown through a shredding machine.
    BG collapsed to the ground in a fit of violent writhing, reaching desperately for the axe her left hand had dropped after slicing him up like salami, the knife embedded in the lowest part of her sternum. Had he been able to think clearly, he would have congratulated himself on actually making contact with her. As he was a bit preoccupied with staring at the bits of his own skin and muscle lying on the ground surrounded by frayed fragments of blood vessels and a pool of thick red blood that could only be his own, however, he failed to notice this small victory and instead commenced panicky screaming in pain.

    That’s the actual battle scene; one of the Ant’s henchmen sees the injury and panics, thus distracting her long enough for the poor guy to run away…
    Acting it out was very helpful – as well as painful; my opponent enjoyed whacking at my fingers :S
    Thank you very much again!

    -Mouse

  • Kim says:

    Wow, Mouse, that’s really good. Good job!! I like it. :)

  • Kestrel says:

    I’m writing a novel for school, which is going to include a good amount of fencing. I found this extremely helpful, and I’m going to do some research like you said. However, all of the questions were pose as if both characters had the same amount of weapons. My MC has two katanas, and the Antagonist has a broadsword. I was wondering if you could give me any tips on how to write that. They are inside, in a circular arena with nothing but their weapons and the sand covering the floor. The MC has been fecing for 7 years, the Antagonist for twenty. Thanks a lot, the article gave me a bunch of ideas.

  • Kim says:

    I’m so glad you like the article. Darren is really good with the sword. Based on the little bit I know, I would say, you’d have to decide what type of martial arts each character uses. I”m assuming Katana guy uses Japanese martial arts and other guy who uses the broad sword uses English Martial arts, right? I’m not up on Japanese martial arts and I”m not very good with the English arts. Here’s a video to help give you an idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsXadDB3hi4

    I would say look at various youtube videos that dealt with katana vs broadsword. You can come up with some interesting moves, that’s how I got my moves. It won’t be easy to come up with stuff, so you might have to use literary license so to speak. Just remember Japanese and English martial arts are totally different. I wish I had more info for you, but Japanese MA can be difficult, but I’m sure you can come up with something cool. :) If you have more questions, go ahead and post them and we’ll see what we come up with.

  • Kim says:

    Also remember, the Katana is used mostly for chopping and stabbing, while the broadsword is good for slicing and dicing and stabbing. I don’t know if that will help you.

  • Kestrel says:

    Thanks! My character has some really odd things that she goes up against, most of which I’m sure wouldn’t hold up at all in real life, but that one fight I’m hoping to make realistic, so I’ll definitely do that. Thanks again!

  • Gabriel says:

    I read the article, and I must say that it has helped a lot. I’m currently writing an amateur novel and have just reached the point of the first sword-fight. It is not “to the death” however. It is simply between the MC and an experienced (eg. Military background) friend, to teach the protagonist how to handle a blade. This scene gave me a severe case of writer’s block, considering I had never held a weapon in my entire life (Then again, I am just 16). I’ll be sure to take this article into account, as well as do some more additional research :) . I have some questions though.

    How would a fight-scene go between combatants who utilize different weapons? Obviously, they cannot use a technique that would normally work on an opponent using the same weapon. In my story, there is a group of characters who use weapons such as Broad-swords, Shields, Spears, Maces, and Battle-Axes. Meanwhile, another group uses Rapiers, Daggers, Pistols, and Gunpowder Rifles. I guess what I’m wondering is: What advantages and disadvantages would a combatant wielding a Rapier have, against an enemy who makes use of the Broad-sword and vice-versa, and how should the fight proceed to make it believable?

    Another question is: How “good” should the MC be, if he only had a few days to train before he unwittingly finds himself locked in his first fight to the death against a superior opponent, and what would be a realistic outcome that doesn’t get the protagonist killed?

    Thanks in advance :D

  • Kim says:

    Hi Gabriel. I’m sorry this is sooooo very late!! Very late indeed. I was actually wanting to talk to someone about your question, but he never got back with me. So, I’ll do my best. A gun will beat a sword anyday, so I would suggest that the one with the sword maybe use a bow and arrow, as you can’t have face to face combat. As for the Rapier vs a Broad sword? I went to youtube and found this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvvLM9KfXkY I would say that there really isn’t much of a difference and I’m thinking it really depends upon finding the opponents’ weaknesses and strengths. As for how good should he be? Good enough to stay alive. It takes around 10 years of continued training to get good enough to fight in a battle.

    Squires started at age 7 and then when they were about 16-18, they were knighted. So I would say, a few days of training? The MC’s dead, unless he uses his head and is able to outwit his opponent. He can’t have a week’s of training then pick up a sword and win. it’s all about learning what works and what doesn’t. That’s why the squires trained everyday.

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